Discover more from Fred Klonsky in Retirement
Medicare and the American cost of drugs.
Waiting nine to twelve years for Medicare to negotiate drug prices is not good news when you're my age.
Biden’s infrastructure bill passed the House last night in spite of the votes of six congress members of conscience.
Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar. Ayanna S. Pressley and Rashida Tlaib all voted no. They voted no because they insisted on a second Biden bill, the one addressing human infrastructure such as drug costs be linked to the first bill. They insisted on treating health care and human services as important as bridges and roads.
I agree with them. So did most of the rest of the congressional Progressive Caucus until Virginia gave them an excuse to cave.
Not that there isn’t good stuff in the bill that is on Biden’s desk this morning. But how cynical do you have to be to think the second bill that deals more with human services than brick and mortar may not ever come to pass without the leverage of holding back on the roads and bridges bill.
Just look at what happened to controlling drug prices.
All during the election Biden and the Democrats promised they were going to go after the drug industry with a bill that would allow greater government control of Big Pharma and drug prices.
Biden’s original social spending bill included government negotiation of drug prices and drug industry profits.
We are the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t do that.
Since Biden’s election and as a result of a fifty/fifty split in the senate, the current bill has reduced that reform to something much less.
Democratic Senators Sinema and Manchin have used that fifty/fifty split to hold congress and the people hostage.
I still believe that if the Democratic leadership wasn’t so worried about Left they would be playing harder hard ball against those two.
In its current form the second bill would limit the amount those of us on Medicare would pay out of pocket for our medications. It would limit increases year to year on the cost of existing drugs. It would allow Medicare to negotiate directly with the drug industry on drug prices, but limit those negotiations to only 20 drugs.
The only thing that would concern the drug industry less would be if congress did nothing at all.
The drug industry produces about 35 major new drugs a year.
The drugs whose prices could be negotiated would not include new drugs. They would be shielded from price negotiation for nine to twelve years.
Nine to twelve years is a long time for someone like me in their mid-seventies. You could say it’s a life-time.
The new drugs are the most expensive, the most unaffordable to many and the most profitable for the drug companies
To better understand the bigger picture, if you want to understand the way health care works in America it is best to read the business section of the paper.
It is venture capital that drives the American drug industry. They invest in a biotech start-ups which works on developing only a single drug. If that drug works it gets bought by a major drug company, with massive profits going to the original venture capitalist investor, the single drug start-up and the major drug dealer.
The consumer is screwed.
No other country does it this way.
We make advanced medicines available, but only to the few that can afford them.
On average, Americans pay about 250 percent of drug prices in other developed countries, according to a recent study from the RAND Corporation. Those other countries tend to negotiate aggressively for lower drug prices, often by purchasing drugs for the entire nation centrally, and often by being willing to say no to newer, effective therapies that regulators deem not worth the expense.
The question of which system works better depends on if you are the consumer or not.