PhRMA gave some $1.6 million to Obama’s presidential campaign, triple what it gave John McCain. Johnson was candid about his group’s agenda:
We’ve been moving the pieces on the chess board around for some time now getting ready for next year, and we’ve got a great game plan in place. We think we’ve earned a right at the table, and we’re optimistic that at the end of the day, the majority of members of Congress will recognize the importance of the pharmaceutical industry to health care.
So what are they worried about? The president-elect has said he favors price negotiations between Medicare and the drug companies, which some experts believe will lead to somewhat lower prices for prescription drugs for seniors and lower government outlays for Medicare’s prescription drug benefit. The 2003 law that provided for the benefit banned price negotiations. The Boston Consulting Group estimates that price negotiations could lower drug maker annual revenues by $10 to $30 billion. Ah, the loser thing again! What’s a few million to persuade the public how much you care about kids when that expense can help you pocket billions?
Meanwhile, seniors—who still must pay some of the costs for the drug benefit—will see those costs go up next year. For some, monthly premiums will rise on average 43 percent; for others, the premiums may increase by more than 300 percent. Seniors are also required to pay a portion of the drug price at the pharmacy. Those amounts are going up too.
Linking all the pieces calls for some connecting-the-dots reporting. Let’s get on with it.