The attempts to try and control the runaway prices for drugs was thwarted by the Senate and Pharma and their suitcases of bribes have struck again.
Senate Republicans knocked a $35 monthly limit on insulin costs for diabetics out of the Democratic economic bill on Sunday. “The reality is the cost of insulin is not just out of control, it is devastating people,” Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said on the floor before the vote, per the Washington Post. Because of a parliamentarian ruling, the measure covering insured patients needed more than the usual simple majority to pass, the Hill reports. The tally was 57-43, with all no votes coming from Republicans. The parliamentarian’s ruling did not affect the similar limit for Medicare patients, which remains in the bill and could have an effect on insulin prices generally.
The House has passed a bill capping the monthly cost of insulin at $35 for insured patients, part of an election-year push by Democrats for price curbs on prescription drugs at a time of rising inflation, per the AP. Experts say the legislation, which passed 232-193 Thursday, would provide significant relief for privately insured patients with skimpier plans and for Medicare enrollees facing rising out-of-pocket costs for their insulin. Some could save hundreds of dollars annually, and all insured patients would get the benefit of predictable monthly costs for insulin. The bill would not help the uninsured. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in voting for the legislation, notes the New York Times.
The Affordable Insulin Now Act will serve as a political vehicle to rally Democrats and force Republicans who oppose it into uncomfortable votes ahead of the midterms. For the legislation to pass Congress, 10 Republican senators would have to vote in favor to overcome a filibuster. Democrats acknowledge they don’t have an answer for how that’s going to happen, but the political sniping has begun: “If 10 Republicans stand between the American people being able to get access to affordable insulin, that’s a good question for 10 Republicans to answer,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., a cosponsor of the House bill. “Republicans get diabetes, too. Republicans die from diabetes.
Public opinion polls have consistently shown support across party lines for congressional action to limit drug costs. But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., complained the legislation is only “a small piece of a larger package around government price controls for prescription drugs.” Critics say the bill would raise premiums and fails to target pharmaceutical middlemen seen as contributing to high list prices for insulin. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Democrats could have a deal on prescription drugs if they drop their bid to authorize Medicare to negotiate prices. “Do Democrats really want to help seniors, or would they rather have the campaign issue?” Grassley said.
Screwing diabetes sufferers is paramount for the GOP.
Then Pharma goes into full blown fearmongering…..
Groups like this mysterious American Prosperity Alliance (which just launched their website in late June), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and National Association of Manufacturers have been going all in, dropping millions of dollars on deceptive ads aimed at getting people to oppose drug price negotiation. Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to frame it as “socialist price controls!,” for reasons of “follow the money.”
“I don’t think socializing prices that is putting the government in charge of this is the way to continue the kind of healthy effective pharmaceutical industry that has saved the lives of millions of Americans,” Mitch McConnell said earlier this month.
Although at this point I think that one is probably a hard sell. Polls have shown for years that huge majorities of the country want the government to do far more about the price of pharmaceutical drugs than just letting Medicare negotiate prices.
Too many people have to buy overpriced insulin, Epipens, and too many people remember the time Medicare paid “$172 million between 2006 and 2011, about twice as much as the consumer would have paid at the retail level” for penis pumps for this to be an easy thing to pull off. Many of them have even heard that the government could have saved $3.6 billion by buying Medicare pharmaceuticals from an online pharmacy. Additionally, with inflation being what it is, it’s not gonna be all that easy to get people riled up about “socialist price controls.” When the other option is “getting completely screwed and paying out the nose” for things, “socialist price controls” just don’t sound that menacing.
Of course, allowing Medicare to negotiate prices is not “socialist price controls” anyway, anymore than private insurance companies negotiating prices is “socialist price controls.” In fact, for all intents and purposes, health insurance is a form of collective bargaining. The insurance companies say “We have this many customers, you can sell your drug to our group but only if you charge this much.” That’s why people in countries that have socialized health care pay less for their drugs. Because their whole country is one giant insurance group, which gives them leverage. This is what Medicare should be, but it’s not, because pharmaceutical companies prefer a system where they get to tell the US government how much it is going to pay for drugs and the US government has to pay that amount, regardless of how ridiculous it is.
Time for the public to stop bitching and start paying attention…..because eventually your very existence will be at issue.
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