Monday, March 31, 2014

Bush's drug prescription plan

In indicating that I am unsure about whether Congress performed well or poorly in enacting The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, I believe I have one definite negative and a couple of open questions.

The definite negative relates to the pharmaceutical industry and its avoidance of negotiating drug prices. Here is the way I see this. As a general rule, if Congress decides that the Federal government should be involved (and has constitutional authority to be involved) with something, public and taxpayer interests should predominate, private interests should be lesser, and private interests should not have a controlling say. In the case of negotiating or not negotiating drug prices, it is legitimate for Congress to give some consideration to the detrimental effect that negotiating drug prices might have on the vitality of the pharmaceutical industry and the thousands of employees employed by the industry and weigh that in deciding whether there shall be negotiation of drug prices or not. The pharmaceutical industry should not be able to dictate that decision by means of how it deploys campaign contributions and lobbyists. In this regard this Wikipedia article reports this:

Former Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., who steered the bill through the House, retired soon after and took a $2 million a year job as president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the main industry lobbying group. Medicare boss Thomas Scully, who threatened to fire Medicare Chief Actuary Richard Foster if he reported how much the bill would actually cost, was negotiating for a new job as a pharmaceutical lobbyist as the bill was working through Congress.[28][29] A total of 14 congressional aides quit their jobs to work for the drug and medical lobbies immediately after the bill's passage.

Beyond the foregoing definite negative related to Congressional performance, I don't know enough about budgetary considerations and political jockeying that went on in the passage of the law.  Close scrutiny there might reveal further negatives about Congressional performance.

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