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The "N" Word

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By: Patricia L Johnson and Richard E Walrath

It was a bright, sunny afternoon on January 20, 1961 when John F. Kennedy stood before the podium and delivered his memorable inaugural address which included the following "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate."

George W Bush has filled his cabinet with corporate types basically turning the Whitehouse into a business run by CEO's whose primary goal is to look out for the bottom line.

So why are these people, who have used this tool on a daily basis in their corporate positions, suddenly backing away from the negotiation tables when it comes to negotiating Medicare Part D pharmaceutical costs?

When The Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement and Modernization Act of 2003, PL 108-173 was signed into law on December 8, 2003, it prohibited the Secretary of Health and Human Services from interfering in negotiations between Part D sponsors and drug manufacturers. Part D is an outpatient prescription drug benefit offered to Medicare beneficiaries and is currently overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

This administration feels so strongly against negotiation that the following statement was submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives prior to a vote on H.R. 4 If H.R. 4 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill

On January 12, 2007 the Medicare Prescription Drug Negotiation Act of 2007 was voted on and passed by 255-170. This bill amends title XVIII of the Social Security Act to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower Part D drug prices on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries.

Why does this administration feel so strongly against negotiating Part D drug prices that it provided a written statement indicating its intent to veto if the bill passed?

The answer seems relatively simple negotiating lower prices with the pharmaceutical companies will more than likely result in lower bottom lines for an industry that profit billions of your hard-earned dollars each year.

Pharaceutical Revenues/Profits 2006

Data Source: CNN Money

Drug companies couldn't get a better deal than the one they have now, so why should they negotiate with anyone?

President Bush desperately wants to be able to say he did something about Social Security before he leaves office. There's also a chance, that in sheer desperation to escape being considered the worst president over 200 years, he may decide to support some form of national health care.

So, how about a tie between Social Security and National Health Insurance?

Why not extend Medicare coverage so it's available to everyone?

If you take two problems and use them to solve each other that's real negotiation!

All it takes is a beginning, and the beginning should be a concerted effort to negotiate Medicare Part D benefits with the pharmaceutical companies.

Who knows, this may end up being the first step towards affordable health insurance for all.

Richard E Walrath and Patricia L Johnson are co-owners of Articles and Answers


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