Drug Industry Lobbyists Will Get What They Want Concerning Healthcare Reform
There are now over 3,000 registered healthcare lobbyists on Capitol Hill. When you think of this, that's six lobbyists for every single member of Congress. This makes it quite easy for the drug industry to get what they want concerning healthcare reform.
The pharmaceutical industry has authorized its lobbyists to spend as much as $150 million on television commercials, in response to President Obama’s health-care overhaul initiatives, to insure their interests.
In the first six months of this year alone, drug and biotech companies and their trade associations spent more than $110 million promoting their plans, when you break this down, that's about $609,000 a day. That’s a lot of money spent on influencing lawmakers to get what they want concerning healthcare.
Since the mid-1980s, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) has gotten what it wanted out of Washington. Because of that, drug expenditures are now about 12 percent of the nation's $2.4 billion healthcare tab, up from less than 8 percent in the 1980s.
This is a lot of lobbyists fighting to get what they want. This has worked out nicely for the pharmaceutical industry, which has spent at least $18 million lobbying Congress on healthcare reform and, so far, has fought off two proposals that would have cost billions of dollars: allowing cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada, and lowering drug prices for some Medicare patients. “The lobbyists are winning,” said Representative Jim Cooper, a conservative Tennessee Democrat who teaches health policy.
The lobbying paid off as the Senate Finance Committee continued to vote on amendments to the major healthcare legislation, three Democrats joined all 10 Republicans on the panel to defeat a proposal that would have upended the deal reached by the White House for $80 billion in savings on drug costs over the next 10 years.
This deal is a giveaway to the major drug manufacturers. And Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, had proposed an amendment to the health care legislation that would have extracted at least $86 billion more from the drug makers.
The fight over the deal with PhRMA stems from the legislative battle over the Medicare prescription drug bill that Republicans successfully pushed through Congress in 2003. As a result of that legislation, about 6 million elderly Americans who had been receiving drug benefits under Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for the poor, were instead shifted into the new Medicare drug program, resulting in the government paying far higher prices for drugs.
Amidst all the confusion with healthcare reform, it does seem clear that drug industry lobbyists will get what they want concerning healthcare reform.
References: New York Times and Time Magazine
Written by Tyler Woods Ph.D.
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