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Mon Feb 4, 2013, 10:04 AM

Wendell Potter: Favors for Special Interests

http://wendellpotter.com/2013/02/favors-for-special-interests/

If you wonder why we spend more money on health care than any other country but have some of the worst health outcomes, you need look no further than the halls of Congress to figure out why that is.

And you need look no further back than the recent “fiscal cliff” drama for compelling proof of how decisions are often made, not based on protecting the public’s interest and bringing costs down, but on protecting the profits of pharmaceutical companies, insurance firms and other special interests that grease the palms of our elected officials.

Drug makers have long had cozy relationships and outsized influence on lawmakers in Washington. That’s why ObamaCare barely touches that industry. Big Pharma essentially blackmailed members of Congress and the White House by threatening to bankroll a huge PR and lobbying campaign to kill health care reform if serious consideration was given to allowing Medicare officials to negotiate for lower drug prices.

We hear constantly from lawmakers about how unsustainable the Medicare “entitlement” program is, yet when they had a chance to make a difference in how much Medicare has to shell out to drug makers, they looked the other way. Taxpayers could save billions of dollars a year if Medicare didn’t have to pay so much for drugs, but drug companies have much more clout on Capitol Hill than taxpayers.

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