Thursday, April 19, 2007

Republicans vote to keep fleecing American seniors

Sen. Stabenow and Sen. Levin voted to save senior citizens money on prescriptions, but in the end it wasn't enough to overcome corporate aligned Republicans.

From the AFL-CIO blog:
Republican Senate leaders today blocked a bill that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate with the drug giants for lower prices. In doing so, they came down on the side of big pharmaceutical companies that make billions in profits on which America’s seniors rely—and against consumers who depend upon the Medicare program for affordable medication.

The 55-42 vote fell five votes short of the 60 needed to shut off Senate floor debate and move the bill to a vote on passage. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted to end debate, but switched his vote to maintain the right to bring the bill up again.
That's small comfort since President Bush said he'd veto the drug negotiation bill if it made it to his desk anyhow.

What hypocrites. Republicans worry about saving their corporate cronies and high-income friends billions of tax dollars, but they won't vote to save senior citizens a few lousy dollars on medication. I'm sure this explains part of it:
The pharmaceutical industry has joined the Bush White House in vigorously opposing lower Medicare prices through negotiations. After the House passed the bill, drug companies launched a massive lobbying and PR campaign aimed at the Senate. The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV spots and newspaper ads to foment against the bill, and its lobbyists swarmed the Capitol as the Senate vote neared.
Big Pharma could pass along price reductions to seniors. The industry is in good health and major pharmaceutical companies are reporting first quarter earnings that beat expectations.

And they certainly have plenty of money to lavish on CEO's. According to the AFL-CIO Executive PayWatch:
The head of Wyeth took home $32.8 million in 2006. A few others: Abbott Laboratories, $26.9 million; Pfizer Inc., $19.4 million; and Baxter, $13.5 million.
Edward Coyle, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans, said this prior to the vote yesterday:
This is the moment of truth for senators and for President Bush: Do they stand with retirees struggling to afford their drugs, or do they stand with the big drug companies who want to keep fleecing American seniors?
Well, we know where they stand now. And they call themselves the values party?


abi said...

News like this is so discouraging. There's no good reason not to let Medicare negotiate for lower drug prices - except pure greed and arrogance.

How pols who keep sticking their finger in the eye of the public keep getting reelected is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

You know, I thought about wrting on this myself, but then got distracted. Thanks for the excellent post.

I cannot fathom how the Democrats failed to get the votes necessary to bring this to the floor. This should be a Mom and Apple Pie issue.

BobbyV said...

Anyone wishing to see the effectiveness of negiotiating drug prices need only look to the Veteran's Administration.
Last year, the VA spent an average of $1,000 on medications for each of its 4.3 million veterans, charging no insurance premiums and $8 for each prescription, according to the nonprofit group Families USA. Medicare paid $1,358 on average for medicines to treat those who enrolled in Part D, and the average patient spent an additional $1,056, the group said.
The only way Americans will get real health-care reform is either to force our politicians to belong to the same patchwork of poorly managed PPOs and HMOs as the rest of us, or for us to have the same government sponsored health plan that our politicians love so dearly. If a government run health plan is such a bad idea, why would our politicians fight to keep theirs?

Lew Scannon said...

I guess they need the bigger profits to spend on lobbying to make bigger profits to spend on lobbying to make bigger profits so they spend it on lobbying to make bigger profits so they have more money to spend on lobbying so they can make more profits so they can have more money to spend on lobbying so they can make more profits.

Kathy said...

Abi, people need to remember these pols next time around and then vote accordingly. This proves who they really side with.

Kvatch, I agree, they should have had the votes. Big Pharma must have spent some really BIG BUCKS.

Bobbyv, thanks for the statistic. I should have included something along those lines myself. Your facts show that not only are senior citizens being gouged, but so are the taxpayers who pay into the Medicare system every payday.

Lew, well said! I feel dizzy after reading that sentence, which is how I feel after listening to Bush explain his policy on Iraq. :-)