Friday, August 14, 2009

"Obama On Drugs: 98% Cheney?"

The other day, I saw a post by Greg Palast, one he originally wrote for Huffington Post. When you read it, you will see why that is kind of funny. I wonder how they responded to it over there? I'm not about to go there and give them the traffic to find out - I'll just use my imagination!

Anyway, the article, Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?, is a very good piece on Obama's Drug Deal. I mean, about the deals cut for big Pharmaceutical companies in the current health care bill. And here's there thing - Palast actually has some background in this area. From his site: Palast studied healthcare economics at the Center for Hospital Administration Studies at the University of Chicago. Here's what Palast has to say:
Eighty billion dollars of WHAT?

I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?

On June 22, President Obama said he'd reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, "reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs."

Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?

I checked out the government's health stats (at, put fresh batteries in my calculator and totted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.

In other words, Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.

Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool!

Wowie zowie - what a GREAT job Obama did as "Haggler-in-Chief"!! A whole whopping 2%? Over TEN YEARS????? Great, Obama - thanks!! Sheesh:
For perspective: Imagine you are in a Wal-Mart and there's a sign over a flat screen TV, “BIG SAVINGS!” So, you break every promise you made never to buy from that union-busting big box - and snatch up the $500 television. And when you're caught by your spouse, you say, "But, honey, look at the deal I got! It was TWO-PERCENT OFF! I saved us $10!"

But 2% is better than nothing, I suppose. Or is it?

The Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of "savings" from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year. Minus that 2%.

We'll still get the shaft from Big Pharma, but Obama will have circumcised the increase.

Well, that's a nice turn of phrase. And accurate. Here's what the Great Haggler got for that:
And what did Obama give up in return for $80 billion? Chief drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin crowed that Obama agreed to dump his campaign pledge to bargain down prices for Medicare purchases. Furthermore, Obama’s promise that we could buy cheap drugs from Canada simply went pffft!

What did that cost us? The New England Journal of Medicine notes that 13 European nations successfully regulate the price of drugs, reducing the average cost of name-brand prescription medicines by 35% to 55%. Obama gave that up for his 2%.

The Veterans Administration is able to push down the price it pays for patent medicine by 40% through bargaining power. George Bush stopped Medicare from bargaining for similar discounts, an insane ban that Obama said he’d overturn. But, once within Tauzin’s hypnotic gaze, Obama agreed to lock in Bush’s crazy and costly no-bargaining ban for the next decade.

What else went down in Obama's drug deal? To find out, I called C-SPAN to get a copy of the videotape of the meeting with the drug companies. I was surprised to find they didn't have such a tape despite the President's campaign promise, right there on CNN in January 2008, "These negotiations will be on C-SPAN."

This puzzled me. When Dick Cheney was caught having secret meetings with oil companies to discuss Bush's Energy Bill, we denounced the hugger-muggers as a case of foxes in the henhouse.

Cheney's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were creepy and nasty and evil.

But the Obama crew's secret meetings with lobbyists and industry bigshots were, the President assures us, in the public interest.

We know Cheney's secret confabs were shady and corrupt because Cheney scowled out the side of his mouth.

Obama grins in your face.

See the difference?

The difference is 2%.

Ah, yes - that would be the difference alright. A paltry 2% with a Cheshire Grin to go with it. Perfect. That's the "Change" for which I was "Hoping." Seems to me that someone has been hitting that "Hopium" pipe if he expects us to accept THIS gift to the big Pharma Companies. I wonder if there is coverage for THAT under his new plan?

Oh, and Palast had this attached to his post:

Now it's Let's Make a Deal with hospital lobbyists.

First, the President was caught with his principals down, cutting a scuzzy back-room deal with pharmaceutical lobbyist Billy Tauzin to limit drug price savings to just 2% over 10 years (see attached, "Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?"), the New York Times today reports that another deal was sealed by lobbyist Chip Kahn of the American Hospital Association.

Here are the numbers they don't want you to see: Hospitals will be allowed to hike their prices and revenues by six trillion dollars ($5,853 billion) over the next ten years, only $155 billion less than they had projected before the Obama "reform."

In all, the Obama back-room deal will "reduce" our $26 trillion total hospital bill over the next decade by one-half of one percent.

Once again, the lobbyists got the gold mine, the public got the shaft.

Say it ain't so, Mr. President.

Great. More smoke and mirrors from the Great Concessioner (is that a word?) - in - Chief on our behalf. That's just jake, Mr. Obama.

One last thing, I don't know this for sure, but my guess is that Huffington Post isn't gonna be publishing any more of Greg Palast's work. Just a hunch...

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