Sunday, November 26, 2006

Campaign Promise To Go Unfulfilled?

Surprise, surprise! The Democratic Party's pie-in-the-sky plan to "fix" the Medicare prescription-benefit program might not be so feasible. From "Success of Drug Plan Challenges Democrats" in the Sunday, November 26, 2006 edition of the Washington Post:
It sounded simple enough on the campaign trail: Free the government to negotiate lower drug prices and use the savings to plug a big gap in Medicare's new prescription-drug benefit. But as Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, they are struggling to keep that promise without wrecking a program that has proven cheaper and more popular than anyone imagined.

House Democrats have vowed to act quickly after taking power in January to lift a ban on Medicare negotiations with drugmakers, which they hope will save as much as $190 billion over a decade. But House leaders have yet to settle on a strategy and acknowledge that negotiation is, in any case, unlikely to generate sufficient savings to fill the "doughnut hole," the much-criticized gap in coverage that forces millions of seniors to pay 100 percent of drug costs for a few weeks or months each year....

"This is going to be much more of a morass than people think," said Marilyn Moon, director of the health program at the American Institutes for Research and a former trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. Negotiating drug prices is "a feel-good kind of answer, but it's not one that is easy to imagine how you put into practice."

The Medicare drug benefit, one of the Bush administration's signature domestic programs, was created in 2003 and took effect in January....The cost of the program has been lower than expected...

For now, it is not clear how aggressively Democrats are willing to push price negotiation. Ideas range from simply repealing the ban on negotiations -- which would accomplish little if the Bush administration refuses to negotiate -- to creating a separate, government-run Medicare drug program with strong negotiating power.

Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), who is in line to become chairman of a key health subcommittee, said he prefers a middle path, with Medicare setting ceilings from which private insurers could negotiate downward.

But Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the incoming Senate Finance chairman, is cool to the idea of government negotiation, and has committed only to holding hearings to "determine what the result would be of eliminating" the no-negotiation clause.
Tell the AARP, staunch supporters of the Democratic Party, that they've been had on this one. Oh, never mind:
John C. Rother, policy director for AARP, the powerful lobby for elderly Americans, said he has no doubt that the next Congress will give government some role in negotiating Medicare drug prices.

"This is an idea that's favored by 90 percent of the American public," Rother said. "It's not like you have to convince the American public that this is a good idea."
Sure, Mr. Rother. Just keep on believing that. After all, "Hillary Care" worked out too, didn't it?

30 Comments:

At 11/26/2006 8:43 AM, Anonymous Big Dog said...

What, politicians are not keeping their word? Say it isn't so...

They are always going to fix the world BEFORE they get elected.

 
At 11/26/2006 10:03 AM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

Of course, government nickle and diming the price of drugs will cost everyone in the end; anyone not covered by the program will pay more, and eventually the drug companies will ``request`` to raise their prices to cover their shrinking financial base. (The gas company, which is regulated in just this fashion, does this regularly-and has it`s request granted). When will these people ever learn that there are natural economic laws which are thrown out of kilter by excessive government regulations?

Wallmart is selling generic drugs for $4 and are reviled for it by liberals. Who is promising something they can`t deliver, and who is actually delivering what the American people want?

If the Democrats and AARP have their way you can kiss cheap drugs goodbye.

Great post, AOW!

 
At 11/26/2006 11:24 AM, Blogger WomanHonorThyself said...

hiya AOW..Hope youre feeling better!..ah one more the things the Dems will usher in: economic ruin!..and the middle class hard worker will have to pay more and more and more ........!

 
At 11/26/2006 11:46 AM, Blogger Gayle said...

If one thing will finally do the Dems in, it's going to be this sort of stuff. When the middle class realize they are paying more out of pocket under them than under Republicans, perhaps they'll finally wake up. Do you know anyone who likes to pay higher taxes? I don't!

Hi, AOW. I'm doing a bit better today. Thanks for caring! :)

 
At 11/26/2006 4:37 PM, Blogger Brooke said...

Why not just go ahead and back a Democrat euthanasia program? Once the "quality of life" fades to the point that the elderly might need multiple medications, we could just put them all to sleep and save the money that way.

I mean, the Dems are "pro-choice," right?

 
At 11/26/2006 5:53 PM, Anonymous Seth said...

I see this as just another element in a 2 year cap on the Democrat majority. They said what they figured they had to say to get elected, now they have to deliver (or not).

The bossman at AARP seems a bit confused. As I recall, AARP lauded Bush's prescription drug plan. Considering its timely implementation vs 8, count 'em eight years of Billary accomplishing nothing to that end, certain people should wake up and see what side their bread is actually buttered on.

 
At 11/26/2006 6:47 PM, Blogger Mustang said...

It doesn't burn my hide that politicians make promises that they never keep, but what does irritate me is that politicians will read the WaPo article and completely disregard it. Why? Because (1) they know that most voters aren't paying attention, and (2) they could care less about what voters who do pay attention really think.

Apparently, the arrogance of these "servants of the people" does pay off, however; they know that they stand a better than average chance of reelection. It must be true that we deserve who we vote for, eh?

 
At 11/26/2006 7:48 PM, Anonymous Seth said...

Heh --

I used to say that to tick off liberals when I lived in SF.

A lib would complain about a homeless person using his doorway for a commode, and I would grin at him and say, "A city gets what a city votes for."

But this is true -- we are a Democracy. We deserve what we vote for, and if we get screwed, it's more often than not because the majority of the voting population doesn't pay attention. Of course, with the propagandizing power of the MSM....

 
At 11/27/2006 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since when do Democrats fix problems in any description. They are the party of no can do and side with enemies of the USA.

Will Joe Lieberman kindly turn the lights out as the last patriotic Democrat leaves the party.

 
At 11/27/2006 9:16 AM, Blogger nanc said...

greg gutfeld (dailygut.com) has the funniest take on prescription drugs at the huffington post (hostile territory i might add).

he says, according to the experts, ""Wealthy elitists experience physical and psychological duress when they see less wealthy people buy things that wealthy elitists thought only they could afford." The popularity of SUV's among the middle and lower classes - a mode of transportation that uses less fuel than private limousines and chartered jets - is a recent phenomenon that elevates both blood pressure and heart rate among the fishbowl elite, leading to a powerful mix of mania and panic. " The usual solution: purchasing electric cars and organic goods as a method to distance themselves from those who live within a budget."

read the entire post here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-
gutfeld/why-you-should-applaud-
wa_b_30190.html

i know for a fact that the charging of $4.00 per prescription for generic drugs is also overcharging. wal-mart is doing a good thing and still realizing a one to two hundred percent profit on these drugs. we need to encourage them now, while we may.

 
At 11/27/2006 10:11 AM, Blogger American Crusader said...

It's a lot easier to criticize without offering suggestions then it will be for the Democrats to actually pass legislation.
What will be their excuse when Social Security runs out?
Their claim that President Bush wanted to privatize Social Security was so out of proportion to what the plan actually was and unfortunately most people actually believed it.
As for Medicare and prescription drug coverage..I believe that Wal-Mart will be more effective and beneficial than the Democratic Party.
Hope your holidays went great.

 
At 11/27/2006 11:51 AM, Blogger nanc said...

wonder which way plucky will go on this one? orrrrrrrr...will he be suspiciously absent?

 
At 11/27/2006 1:16 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Let's see .... WalMart was reviled for selling $4 generics. I wonder if Tim can give some context for that bit of silliness.

Anyway, that is a small portion of the money spent on prescription drugs with brand names siphoning off the lion's share. Now according to conservatives who don't understand that the major drug companies are nothing more than distributors who spend more on advertising than they do on research this is a good thing. Otherwise we wouldn't have new drug development. Pure cheese.

We are still paying for givaways by the likes of Billy Tauzin who went into the tank in favor of corporate profits.

As for the WaPo story, doesn't give me the feeling that the expected number signed up and suspect that is why costs are down. Still, the plan is a confused mess and someone has yet to tell me why we should be paying nearly 25% of the most expensive component in GDP for administrative costs. If the private sector is so efficient then there is some explaining to do.

Maybe mustang can, but I assume he gets his meds discounted through the VA. Of course he's earned that discount but others have not.

 
At 11/27/2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous Seth said...

Duck --

Pharmaceutical R & D ain't cheap, neither is getting a new drug approved. Have you ever heard of those clinical research joints found in cities all over the country? A drug company has to test its new products in scores of those places to evaluate results, as often as not paying four digit sums to all the participants, and submit the test resuts to the FDA for their evaluation. As far as marketing costs are concerned, that's the price of doing business in any industry. The left always singles out their political targets (the drug industry, the oil industry, Wal-Mart, whatever and seeks to make it appear that some practice or other of said target is unique and terrible, and no one else does it, which is a load of B.S.).

I once asked a pharmacist acquaintance what the difference was between a name brand drug and a generic, and he told me, "They both come off the same conveyor belt, they just spend a ton of money marketing one, and don't spend as much marketing the other."

That's private industry working. A true capitalist tries to reach all markets, so while the bread and butter comes from those who can afford the name brands, they also sell the same products to those who can't. The last thing we need is for another government bureaucracy to come along and screw things up by messing with the marketplace.

 
At 11/27/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger Mr. Ducky said...

Sorry seth, but you are going to have to move in pretty mysterious ways to demonstrate that spending billions on advertising and essentially bribing doctors to get your drug prescribed is beneficial to anyone's health (except the CEO's).

Drug research costs are way overstated and the majors don't do much research anyway. It's being done by universities and biotech firms but the drug companies are raking of a percentage for nothing more than advertising and distribution.

 
At 11/27/2006 2:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ducky

Any drugs that can restore a Marxist like yourself to sanity it well worth the cost. Let me know when and where your self- criticism
session is. I want to add anything you leave out.

 
At 11/27/2006 4:06 PM, Blogger nanc said...

approximately 90 billion dollars per year is spent on the marketing of pharmaceuticals. this, in and of itself, is wrong. half of that money would feed every single starving person in the world for over two years.

a friend of mine received a pile of previously read woman-type magazines from her mom-in-law awhile back - there were between seven and fifteen full-page (sometimes two to three) ads for pharmaceuticals giving the info from shiite to shinola.

she said to me, "no wonder my mother-in-law is always sick and has at least ten or so prescriptions in her cabinet!"

the father-in-law was never sick. go figure. he reads hunting magazines - they always have game!

anybody ever see the one that may cause constipation or diahrrea if combined with some other prescriptions? gotta get me some of that!

 
At 11/27/2006 4:59 PM, Blogger Farmer John said...

F'n democrats are pushing the law of the one price theory again... ignoring the realities of regional markets.

...and ducky hates doctors for spending $ billions on advertising...which is essentially a policy dedicated to giving away free samples of new medications to patients who could not otherwise afford them...

ducky, you know better than that!

 
At 11/27/2006 6:34 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Ducky,

I was here in St. Louis, one of the nation's leading pharmaceutical production sector cities connected by rail, river, and road to everywhere else in the nation, during the 2004 Presidential debates listening to John Kerry babble on about how we needed to outsource prescription drug distribution to the Canadians.

Something tells me you Massachusettans have trouble grasping linear logic.

 
At 11/27/2006 7:57 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Farmer,
a policy dedicated to giving away free samples of new medications to patients who could not otherwise afford them...

Yes. Years ago, my cousin, who was living on a shoestring (through no fault of her own--disability following a stroke at a young age), got most of her medications via samples from her doc.

I get free samples of certain non-generics before ordering the full prescription so as to see if the particular medication agrees with my system. No point in having a medicine cabinet full of pills to which I'm "allergic."

 
At 11/27/2006 7:57 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Beak (to Duck),
Any drugs that can restore a Marxist like yourself to sanity it well worth the cost.

But would he TAKE it?

 
At 11/27/2006 7:58 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Seth,
The last thing we need is for another government bureaucracy to come along and screw things up by messing with the marketplace.

Any "benefit" from the government comes at a mighty high price, which is extracted from the pockets of the taxpayer.

 
At 11/27/2006 8:02 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Nanc,
a friend of mine received a pile of previously read woman-type magazines from her mom-in-law awhile back - there were between seven and fifteen full-page (sometimes two to three) ads for pharmaceuticals giving the info from shiite to shinola.

she said to me, "no wonder my mother-in-law is always sick and has at least ten or so prescriptions in her cabinet!"


And not only the women's magazines. I see drugs targeting the "female audience" in all sorts of magazines. But you're right: certain magazines are packed with drug-pushing ads. Promoting hypochondria?

anybody ever see the one that may cause constipation or diahrrea if combined with some other prescriptions? gotta get me some of that!

Sort of on-topic...Jeff Foxworthy does a funny bit about the side effects of certain medications.

 
At 11/27/2006 8:05 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
It's not just the VA which has discounts for medications. My friends who are government employees have a huge break in health-insurance premiums for policies which are cheaper and more comprehensive than those of us working for private industry.

 
At 11/27/2006 11:08 PM, Blogger Elmer's Brother said...

even with the VA benefit (I'm not complaining) the copay is about what Walmart is offering. $3-$9...it's actually not through the VA but TRICARE

 
At 11/28/2006 6:37 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Duck,
Our veterans have earned the health benefits they receive. Any resentment of those benefits is misplaced.

 
At 11/28/2006 7:01 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mustang,
Apparently, the arrogance of these "servants of the people" does pay off, however; they know that they stand a better than average chance of reelection. It must be true that we deserve who we vote for, eh?

Typically, one of the local news stations picks up on each of the above-the-fold stories from the WaPo. But for this particular story, I didn't hear one word from our local media.

IMO, the typical voter relies on the media as a guide for voting. Furthermore, the typical voter pays more attention to sound bites than to his own research on the candidates. The typical voter also wants to believe the pie-in-the-sky promises so much that he just doesn't bother to consider the feasibility. Maybe voter-laziness is one reason that voters continue to be surprised and/or bitter when campaign promises go unfulfilled.

Crusader,
Our Thanksgiving was wonderful! For once, I didn't turn my hand because my neighbor insisted on doing it all.

It's a lot easier to criticize without offering suggestions then it will be for the Democrats to actually pass legislation.

In the recent election, the Dems did a lot of griping without offering any workable solutions. Perhaps political campaigns have always been so, and perhaps our Founders knew that: after all, we have elections for the House every two years. The frequency of those elections gives the people a voice which can be heard loudly and clearly.

In any case, we have elections again in 2008. We'll see if the voters then hold that particular set of candidates accountable for promises unkept.

 
At 11/28/2006 7:52 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

From Cal Thomas:

...Following the election that will put them in the majority come January, Democratic leaders announced that they had taken the pledge. Things would be different, they said. Democrats would be far more ethical than Republicans. In his response to President Bush's radio address last Saturday, soon-to-be House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said, "Šwe will - and we must - change the way things are done in Washington." If that sort of talk sounds familiar, it should. It is what Republicans said prior to, and after, the 1994 election.

It all sounds so noble, even righteous, but the results are the same: Members of Congress don't change Washington; Washington changes them.

Even before the Democrats become the majority party in Congress, there are signs that little of importance will change. New York Times reporter David Kirkpatrick recently wrote a front-page story in which he quotes Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-HI) on "earmark reform." Inouye said, "I don't see any monumental changes." Inouye will take the gavel from the current chairman of the appropriations committee, Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK). The two have what Kirkpatrick calls an "unusual bipartisan camaraderie while divvying up projects."

They are not alone. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) indicates she, too, will jump on the gravy train because "what is good for the goose is good for the gander." Nice. So much for Democrats' commitment to reform. Apparently, the only "reform" will be to use their majority status to funnel more of our tax dollars to the pet projects of Democrats....

It's difficult to take either party seriously when it repeatedly promises reform, but does little or nothing....

 
At 11/28/2006 1:42 PM, Blogger Storm said...

Always
I heard the same thing about the 9/11 commission recommendations. The story now is that most of the recommendations that can be done already have been done. Wow amazing. How is that for cover for the Dimmies...

 
At 11/28/2006 5:26 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Storm,
I heard the same thing about the 9/11 commission recommendations. The story now is that most of the recommendations that can be done already have been done. Wow amazing. How is that for cover for the Dimmies...

The Dimmies will take advantage of that cover but never give due credit for it.

 

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