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Reply #5: More from Huffington Post: [View All]

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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-06-09 06:12 PM
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5. More from Huffington Post:
Why Aren't Progressive Groups Protesting Obama's Back-Room Deal with Big Pharma?

Today's NY Times front page reconfirmed the news that President Obama has made a back-room deal with the pharmaceutical industry to block any Congressional health care legislation that would allow Medicare or most other parts of the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry or would allow importation of cheaper drugs from Canada.

This is extraordinarily disturbing for several reasons:

* This is the only line in the sand that President Obama has drawn in setting forth what provisions are essential in a health reform bill in order for him to sign it instead of veto it. For example, Obama has refused to state that he won't sign a health reform bill without a robust public option. And indeed, the strongest version of the public option still on the table -- the one in the Committee Bill in the House -- is already fatally compromised: Its availability will be limited only to the individual insurance market and not to employers. According to the Congressional Budget Office, when it is fully implemented in 4 or 5 years, it will only insure a maximum of 10 million Americans (compared to over 35 million for Blue Cross) and will have no impact on bringing down health care costs.
* Such backroom deals with special interests and lobbyists are in direct conflict with Obama's campaign promises to change the way Washington does business. The deal was struck with Billy Tauzin, the pharmaceutical industry's chief lobbyist. For those who don't remember, Tauzin is the flamboyant former Democratic turned Republican Congressman from Louisiana who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the same Committee now chaired by Henry Waxman, which is writing the House version of health care reform. Even as Tauzin was drafting the Medicare Drug bill -- which banned Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug companies -- he was secretly negotiating a 2 million dollar a year job as the pharmaceutical industry's chief lobbyist.

..."Here's my question: Where is the outrage against these kind of backroom deals from progressive organizations like Move On, Health Care for America Now, the AFL-CIO, the SEIU, and Families USA, who decided that the most "pragmatic" approach to health care reform was to take single payer off the table and back an incremental approach? Where's the pushback from the Congressional Progressive Caucus telling Obama that they won't vote for a bill which bans the government from negotiating lower drug prices?

Finally the party leaders drew that bright line in the sand, but they did it for pharma.

MR. AXELROD: Look, we have gotten a long way down the road by not drawing bright lines in the sand, other than on the major points, which is that we can't add to the deficit with this healthcare reform, so it has to be paid fore, it has to reduce costs, and we want to make sure that all Americans have a quality, affordable health care. Those are the, those are the things that have to be accomplished. People have different ideas. We're willing to listen to those ideas. But that's where we're--that--those are the imperatives that we have to sell.
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