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Two Predictions-- Both Dire... Both Avoidable

Oregon Blue Dog Kurt Schrader wants us to pay high drug prices

The first prediction comes from Caitlin Owens at Axios: Democrats' Attempt To Lower Private Drug Prices Is Likely To Fail. The second prediction is my own and it flows naturally from Owens': If the Democrats fail to lower the cost of drugs, the midterms bloodbath will be horrific.

"The Democrats' most significant attempt to rein in health care costs in the private market-- specifically prescription drug costs-- is increasingly likely to fail," wrote Owens, of the plan that allows Medicare to negotiate fair drug prices with the big pharmaceutical companies and make those prices available on the private market.

The Republican Party opposes the plan and the Republican wing of the Democratic party-- Blue Dogs, New Dems, corrupt conservatives-- do as well. Owens wrote-- using a slightly different description of them-- that the pack of scumbag bribe taking Dems "in both the House and Senate have made clear that they have issues with the scope of the Medicare negotiation plan, which would save the federal government hundreds of billions of dollars over a decade. Republicans generally strongly oppose Medicare negotiations." Owens may be young and a more accurate way to end that statement would be to leave out the word "negotiations."

Owens describes it as a "controversy" and wrote that it is "over Medicare-specific provisions of the policy, like linking the prices of drugs in the U.S. to what other countries pay for those drugs. But how those negotiated prices would apply to the private market-- and thus its impact on commercially insured Americans-- is also a huge point of contention." One of the most corrupt members of Congress-- who recently escaped a justifiable prison sentence for a bribery scheme by the skin of his teeth and was then reelected-- is New Jersey walking joke Bob Menendez (owned by Big PhRMA) who told Axios that "Allowing private plans to have access to Medicare-negotiated prices is 'no longer now price negotiation-- that’s price control. I'm not for price controls. As a country, we've never been for that,' Menendez added. 'Negotiation is different than price controls. Price control is when I say to a company, for anything, You’re going to sell your product for X. That’s not negotiation.'" It is unclear who wrote that for Menendez, McConnell's comms team or any of the dozens of PhRMA lobbyists who Menendez is close with but since "every Democrat in the Senate has huge sway over shaping the entire reconciliation bill [and] Menendez has already emerged as one of the members most skeptical of Medicare negotiations..." you see the problem. And Menendez, probably aware he can never be elected to anything again anyway and will need Big PhRMA's post-Senate support to maintain his lavish lifestyle, will never give in.

"Several other administrations have tried-- and failed-- to regulate health care prices in the private market, including hospital and provider prices.

  • The industry hates the concept, and if the most recent attempt fails, it's not just the drug industry that will celebrate.

  • The measure in the House bill "sets a precedent that could lead to other public policy that might undermine private-sector negotiation," Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, recently told Axios."

Owens, generously, provides the most current Big PhRMA argument for us:

Medicare regulates what it pays other health care sectors, like hospitals and doctors. That means it wouldn't be unprecedented for it to cap what it pays drugmakers as well, although this could lead to fewer new drugs being developed in the future.
• But the government doesn't regulate the prices that private insurers pay providers.
• "Drugs are now the anomaly in Medicare," said KFF's Larry Levitt. "Extending federally negotiated drug prices to the commercial market is unprecedented, at least in the U.S. It's the norm elsewhere in the world."
Yes, but: Other big pieces of the House bill could likely still ultimately be applied to the commercial market, even if employers and other private insurers don't have access to Medicare-negotiated prices. That includes the provision that limits how much drug companies can increase their prices every year.

Take a look at this polling date from last month. 83% of Democratic voters, 71% of independents and even 65% of Republican voters support the idea of giving Medicare the power to negotiate the cost of prescription drugs. Other polls show that support isn't just widespread, it is also intense and that voters will use the issue to determine who they will support or oppose in the 2022 midterm elections. Few have been as heinous as Menendez but one is a multimillionaire Pfizer heir and major bribe-taker in Oregon, Blue Dog Kurt Schrader.

And Schrader isn't alone. Although many New Dems are uncomfortable with the proposal-- and two have already voted against it in committee (Kathleen Rice from Long Island and shit-bag Scott Peters from San Diego, both in districts Biden won handily-- 55.6% to 43.4% in Rice's district and 63.4% to 34.2% in Peters'), most are grudgingly going along with the Build Back Better Act. The Blue Dogs are an entirely different kettle of fish.

Most Blue Dogs are trying to derail the Build Back Better Act and it would be wise to work towards every Blue Dog in the primaries leading up to the midterms. There are many reasons to defeat Blue Dogs and replace them with real Democrats. But one of those reasons is a look at history. The Blue Dogs were wiped out after they opposed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. After the general election in 2020, what was left of the Blue Dog Coalition could meet around a card table. The DCCC has helped build them up again; there are now 19 of them, including 3 co-chairs: Ed Case (HI), Stephanie Murphy (FL) and Tom O'Halleran (AZ, an "ex"-Republican), all of whom oppose lower drug prices. If they get through the primaries, and are not replaced by normal Democrats, they will be beaten by Republicans just as they were in 2010. Why? Because many Democrats will refuse to go to the polls and vote for candidates with "D"s next to their names who scuttled the lower drug prices plan that they see as a life-saver for themselves and their families. This is a big deal for a lot of people. It is essential that every Blue Dog be replaced with a Democrat who supports lower drug prices. That's what the thermometer above can help achieve. Right now Ed Case, Lou Correa, Henry Cuellar and Kurt Schrader all have viable opponents, respectively Sergio Alcubillar, Mike Ortega, Jessica Cisneros and Mark Gamba. Please support these 4 progressives who are campaigning FOR lowering drug prices, by clicking on the thermometer and contributing what you can to their campaigns.

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