Pharma Trades Dollars for Health Care Support
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
In one of the most amazing turnabouts ever in Washington, PhRMA went from full-throated opposition to ObamaCare to full-throated support – in just a matter of months.
On November 14, 2008, just a week after the election, the Washington Times reported that, “The nation’s largest pharmaceutical lobbying group is preparing a multimillion-dollar public relations campaign to tout the importance of free-market health care and undercut an expected push by the Obama administration for price controls of prescription drugs.” The article went on, “the stakes are especially high for drugmakers, which stand to lose as much as $30 billion in revenue if President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to let the federal government negotiate Medicare drug prices is implemented.”
Just nine months later, in August 2009, the publication Medical Marketing & Media was reporting just the opposite – “PhRMA will launch a big advertising push for healthcare reform later this week, with TV spots airing in key states and on cable channels nationally.” The story continues, “News outlets including The New York Times and the Associated Press put spending on the ads in the range of $150 million – a figure that PhRMA SVP Ken Johnson called speculative.”
What happened? The story quotes PhRMA president Bill Tauzin, “We were assured (by the White House): ‘We need somebody to come in first. If you come in first, you will have a rock-solid deal.'”
Apparently, PhRMA agreed to $80 billion in cuts aimed at filling the Medicare drug program’s “donut hole” and to spend $150 million in advertising to support Obama in exchange for a pledge that the White House would oppose price controls and re-importing drugs. This was probably the best deal of the lot. There was a direct quid pro quo and each side got what it wanted – for now.
Problem is, of course, that these deals don’t last. Deals with the Devil never do. There is already pressure from the left to scuttle this deal, as witnessed in a report that ran on Air America that called this deal the “absolute fascist nightmare.” And meanwhile, the rest of us are left in the dust, subject to all the mandates, taxes, and penalties of the rest of the legislation.
|November 14, 2008
August 10, 2009
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