About the author

Stuart Silverstein is assistant editor at FairWarning.

5 comments to “Swarms of Drug Industry Lobbyists and Campaign Cash Stymie Bid to Restrain Medicare Prescription Costs”

  1. Richard Cox

    It would be helpful to list all members of Congress/Senate and the amounts they received from Pharma or provide a link to a list online.

  2. daniel green

    seems there was an agenda before the article was written. Why were the discounts given to Medicare D not given in the story? what evidence is there the government could do better than the insurance companies? the government is already the biggest influence in our healthcare. moving med D in addition to medicaid and VA to government would essentially form a single payer government run healthcare system. Why was that not mentioned? why was the difference between med D and medicaid/VA not discussed. The government severely restricts choice of providers and medications in medicaid/VA plans. in fact data show most veterans don’t even utilize their VA benefits but choose to instead get their medications off other insurance because the only medicine available is generics. Why isn’t it mentioned the number of people who work for pharmaceutical companies and their partners and how they are american voters and deserve to be represented as much as anyone else.
    why don’t you write a story with intention of giving the other side of the story.
    there are reasons why the government has not voted to become more involved in Med D.
    they aren’t stupid. in fact, they know a WHOLE lot more than the average american.
    and its not the PAC money. its because there is more to the story than just we can get something for lower cost.
    lets discuss what the prescription programs for medicaid/VA look like and whether their beneficiaries are happy. they are not.
    lets also give ALL the info about drug price increases. most of the increases have come from a small group of drugs. some drugs have gone down in price due to discounts.
    lets present the whole picture instead of just the parts that make your story sound inflammatory

  3. Douglas Baldwin

    Wow, Stuart, what a mega job! I am now 65 and a Part D guy, and I have had the opportunity to compare my drug costs from private insurance to Medicare. Clearly, this is one of the big problem topics of modern government, right up there with Immigration, Security, Tax Reform. I like a lot the detail on how President Bush got this Part D program through despite opposition, getting the final votes by 6 a.m. in the morning before Thanksgiving, the longest roll call in history. I didn’t realize a Republican had done such good stuff for medical care and it was good to know that. Its good for Republicans to know that also.

    I see where you write that Part D accounts for $103B and serves 43m people, accounting for 30% of the total drug spending. It is also noted that there is VA spending and Medicaid spending. Big Pharma claims that if the government meddles in pricing, they won’t be able to afford investment in new medicines. What I would like to see are some total numbers so we can all analyze that Big Pharma threat. How much total money does the federal government spend on drugs, including Part D, Veterans, Military, Medicaid, you name it. Plus, how much do state governments pay? Finally, how much is paid privately by patients, as either co-pays on a prescription or directly? Do all these numbers add up to the presumed total drug spending (if $103b is 30% of the total, that means it would be $340 billion, right?). I think these big numbers would be useful in helping the public realize what is at stake here, and also in putting into perspective any Big Pharma claim that they won’t compete if some portion of that huge number becomes federal negotiated.

    Finally, to round out the picture here I would like description about the rest of the world. Is there no drug development in Europe or Asia? Are they just sitting on their hands over there waiting on the USA Big Pharma? Well, okay, and if that is true, that adds then to the overall drug market for Big Pharma, the market that they are researching and creating drugs to compete in. We aren’t just talking USA drug spending, but world drug spending. That raises the stakes, and the reasons why we can call the Big Pharma bluff refusing government Part D negotiation. Or, if Europe and Asia are developing drugs, do those drugs make into the USA, influence the USA, how does that work? Because, if we are getting drugs from those sources, again, this dampens the threat of Big Pharma — they either compete globally in part to protect their market locally, or fall behind, regardless of federal negotiation over price. World wide car makers surpassed USA car makers, for example, and world wide electronics manufacturing also competes to surpass USA. So, maybe, the real picture here isn’t just USA market, its larger, but that dilutes the Big Pharma threat.

    It seems medical costs are approaching the defense budget, and does this allow further analogy for those who wish to make it? Do we, or do we not, negotiate defense contracts?

    Anyway, good big job, and thank you. Clearly, this topic will continue to build steam and pressure and it needs efforts like this to get it before a wider readership.

  4. Philip Gauthier

    My wife and I are 74 and 75 yrs. and participated in” Medicare Part D” since it’s inception. We are both presently enrolled in United Healthcare Rx Preferred. Plan year 2016 premium increased 25% with an increase in co-pays and a shift upward in tier class. This plan will increase it’s premium 25% in plan year 2017. My wife and I enrolled for coverage when premiums and co-pays seemed reasonably priced and although we did not use any high priced drugs our thinking was based on future needs and penalties imposed by Part D if not enrolled at the time we were eligible. It is now decision time once again and I can find no other better plans.
    Thank You for your article it explains much!
    Sincerely,
    Philip and Helen Gauthier

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