The big pharmaceutical companies had been allowed to virtually dictate the PL-108-173 law, which prohibits the Health & Human Services Department (HHS) and its Secretary Michael Leavitt from interfering or even being involved in the negotiations between the drug companies and the insurers that are administering the new Medicare Drug Benefit. A pharmaceutical profiteer's dream; an administration in your back pocket and all it requires are huge political contributions . . . which will pale in comparison with future quid-pro-quo profits for their behemoth.
The upcoming House Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi states that she wants to change that law. She would like to have the government negotiate the drug prices for seniors similar to the Veterans Administration's model system.
AARP also supports a direct government role in negotiating drug prices. The way the VA now runs its medical facilities has become the benchmark for private hospitals to set as their goal. At a recent visit to their Northport facility I was overwhelmed with their efficiency.
Indeed, why not have competitive bidding on the patent free generic drugs as has been adopted by many governments as well as by non-federal health plan payers in the U.S.? Congressional action would be required to institute some of the practices that are common in the rest of the progressive world.
Our Congress already mandates that Medicare contain costs in most areas of health care; why should prescription drugs be treated differently? Perhaps the new congress will find a way, or will they be as ineffectual as the last? We shall see, and if so, there is always another election.
In an earlier administration, Hillary Clinton raised the awareness of Social Security and health care reform. Although her attempt was quickly shot down by special interests utilizing the well financed non-stop TV shills Harry & Louise, she left a spark which has been rekindled of late.
The vast majority of Americans now realize that it should be mandatory in an advanced society such as ours that health care be available to all of the citizens of our country, young and old alike as it is in other advanced societies. Let us hope that they will continue to fan that flame and ignite a fire under the posteriors of our politicians.