The White House has already sold out to Big Pharma, said Robert Reich. In return for drug-industry support for its health-care plan, the Obama administration admitted this week that it had privately promised the industry that any legislation passed would explicitly prohibit the government from using its huge purchasing power to lower drug prices.
This is basically an extension of the corrupt deal the industry struck with President Bush, which expanded the drug benefits available through Medicare, producing “a bonanza” of billions for drug-makers. Big Pharma, which has budgeted $150 million for TV ads promoting Obama’s reform, has vaguely promised to cut future drug costs by $80 billion. But no one seems able to pinpoint where the savings will come from, and they may never be realized.
As a member of the Clinton administration, I watched Pharma and its allies kill health-care reform in 1994, so I understand the value of bringing such a powerful special interest on board. But when the White House feels it cannot bring about reform without making “secret concessions” that will hurt consumers and taxpayers, it’s a sign that “our democracy is in terrible shape.”