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Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message Greg Palast     Permalink
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I searched all over the newspapers and TV transcripts and no one asked the President what is probably the most important question of what passes for debate on the issue of health care reform: $80 billion of WHAT?

On June 22, President Obama said he'd reached agreement with big drug companies to cut the price of medicine by $80 billion. He extended his gratitude to Big Pharma for the deal that would, "reduce the punishing inflation in health care costs."

Hey, in my neighborhood, people think $80 billion is a lot of money. But is it?

I checked out the government's health stats (at HHS.gov), put fresh batteries in my calculator and totted up US spending on prescription drugs projected by the government for the next ten years. It added up to $3.6 trillion.

In other words, Obama's big deal with Big Pharma saves $80 billion out of a total $3.6 trillion. That's 2%.

Hey thanks, Barack! You really stuck it to the big boys. You saved America from these drug lords robbing us blind. Two percent. Cool!

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ALERT

Now it's Let's Make a Deal with hospital lobbyists.

First, the President was caught with his principals down, cutting a scuzzy back-room deal with pharmaceutical lobbyist Billy Tauzin to limit drug price savings to just 2% over 10 years (see attached, "Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?"), the New York Times today reports that another deal was sealed by lobbyist Chip Kahn of the American Hospital Association.

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Here are the numbers they don't want you to see: Hospitals will be allowed to hike their prices and revenues by six trillion dollars ($5,853 billion) over the next ten years, only $155 billion less than they had projected before the Obama "reform."

In all, the Obama back-room deal will "reduce" our $26 trillion total hospital bill over the next decade by one-half of one percent.

Once again, the lobbyists got the gold mine, the public got the shaft.

Say it ain't so, Mr. President.

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For perspective: Imagine you are in a Wal-Mart and there's a sign over a flat screen TV, "BIG SAVINGS!" So, you break every promise you made never to buy from that union-busting big box - and snatch up the $500 television. And when you're caught by your spouse, you say, "But, honey, look at the deal I got! It was TWO-PERCENT OFF! I saved us $10!"

But 2% is better than nothing, I suppose. Or is it?

The Big Pharma kingpins did not actually agree to cut their prices. Their promise with Obama is something a little oilier: they apparently promised that, over ten years, they will reduce the amount at which they would otherwise raise drug prices. Got that? In other words, the Obama deal locks in a doubling of drug costs, projected to rise over the period of "savings" from a quarter trillion dollars a year to half a trillion dollars a year. Minus that 2%.

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http://www.gregpalast.com
Author of the New York Times and international bestsellers, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse, Palast is Patron of the Trinity College Philosophical Society, an honor previously held by Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde. Palast (more...)
 

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