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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dems tap drug maker millions for PhRMA-friendly bill

Obama keeps talking as if "the special interests" are battling against his "reform." That's simply not true. My column tells the true tale:
Of all the single-industry lobbies in Washington, the largest is the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America. PhRMA spent $26.2 million on lobbying last year — that's nearly three times as much as the insurance lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans, which spent $8.9 million.
If you include individual companies' lobbying, pharmaceuticals blow away the competition, beating all other industries by 50 percent, according to data at the Center for Responsive Politics.
Given this Big Pharma clout, it's unsurprising that the bill Obama's whipping for — Senate bill — has nearly everything the drug companies wanted: prohibiting reimportation of drugs, preserving Medicare's overpayment for drugs, lengthy exclusivity for biotech drugs, a mandate that states subsidize drugs under Medicaid, hundreds of billions in subsidies for drugs, and more.
PhRMA chief Billy Tauzin, who was vilified by Obama on the campaign trail, worked out much of this sweetheart deal in a West Wing meeting with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. Tauzin visited the White House at least 11 times. He left his imprint so deeply on the current bill that it should probably be called BillyCare rather than ObamaCare....
This week, PhRMA, through a front group called Americans for Stable Quality Care, is rolling out millions of dollars in advertisements for the Democrats' jury-rigged package consisting of the BillyCare bill and some as-yet-undetermined "budget reconciliation" measure. The ads reportedly will target wavering Democrats.

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