Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How Much Money Does It Take To Kill A Bill? Just Ask Pharma…

By Maria Freese, NCPSSM Policy Director

The failure of the Senate to take up S.3 today is another clear sign that the drug lobby still carries a lot of weight in Washington.

So great is their fear of the power of negotiations, drug companies and their allies pulled out all the stops to deep-six a bill that barely scratched the surface of improvements that need to be made to the Part D drug program. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent on advertising and lobbying to kill a bill that does nothing more than repeal the current prohibition against Medicare negotiating with drug companies to get the best price for seniors. Since the Secretary has already said he will not exercise negotiating authority even if it is given to him, one has to wonder exactly why the drug companies are so afraid that they wouldn’t even allow the bill to come up for debate.

A profit-making enterprise doesn’t spend that kind of money unless a lot more is at stake – billions of dollars that come from the pockets of every single senior who has signed up for a drug plan. Seniors understand what’s at stake in this debate. They cast their votes in November against the status-quo, business as usual, business comes first thinking that says industry profits are more important than what’s best for American citizens and taxpayers.

A vast majority of voters want negotiation…a majority of the Senate does too. Unfortunately today, millions of dollars spent by the drug industry seemed to matter more.

Want to know how your Senator voted? Here’s a link to the final vote count. But don't be surprised to see Majority Leader Harry Reid's vote listed as "No" He switched his vote at the end as a procedural move to allow possible future consideration of S.3. Something our 4 million members and supporters will be working hard to ensure happens.

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