December 16, 2009 / by emptywheel


Carl Levin Takes Ownership of Corrupt Deal with PhRMA

Here’s what my Senator, Carl Levin, said last night when he voted against the Dorgan reimportation amendment. (h/t powwow)

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. President, it has become apparent that passage of this Dorgan amendment relative to importation of prescription drugs, an amendment which I have long supported, could threaten passage of broader health care reform. If so, the perfect would become the enemy of the good. For that reason, I will vote ‘‘no’’ on the Dorgan amendment on this bill.

Presumably in an attempt to justify to constituents like me why he doesn’t think consumers should save $100 billion on drugs, he said he had to vote down the Dorgan amendment to preserve the overall health care reform bill.

Just as a reminder, here’s one of Jane’s many posts explaining the corrupt genesis of the PhRMA deal. As she described, in late spring and summer, at a time when the White House pretended it was letting Congress write bills, the White House made a series of closed door deals with big health care players to buy off their approval for health care “reform.” The deals would:

  1. Keep them from advertising against the White House plan
  2. Keep them from torpedoing vulnerable Democrats in 2010 so there isn’t a repeat of 1994
  3. Keep their money out of GOP coffers

As reported by Ryan Grim, here are the terms of the deal negotiated with PhRMA.

Commitment of up to $80 billion, but not more than $80 billion.

  1. Agree to increase of Medicaid rebate from 15.1 – 23.1% ($34 billion)
  2. Agree to get FOBs done (but no agreement on details — express disagreement on data exclusivity which both sides say does not affect the score of the legislation.) ($9 billion)
  3. Sell drugs to patients in the donut hole at 50% discount ($25 billion)

This totals $68 billion

4. Companies will be assessed a tax or fee that will score at $12 billion. There was no agreement as to how or on what this tax/fee will be based.

Total: $80 billion

In exchange for these items, the White House agreed to:

  1. Oppose importation
  2. Oppose rebates in Medicare Part D
  3. Oppose repeal of non-interference
  4. Oppose opening Medicare Part B

So now Ameican consumers have to continue to subsidize drug development for the rest of the world (and a great deal of erectile dysfunction ads) so the Obama Administration could buy off the PhRMA.

This is–as Scarecrow noted the other day–one big protection racket.

And this is the thoroughly undemocratic, anti-consumer process that Carl Levin has now taken ownership of.

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