An End to That $80 Billion Pharma Deal?
So writes The New York Times, reporting today that the nation’s drug makers are prepping to pay more, under the Democrats’ final health reform bill, than the $80 billion they volunteered in an agreement made with some Democrats earlier in the year.
As the health care bills move toward a House-Senate conference, the liberals appear poised to lose on so many other issues — including a proposed government-run insurer, a so-called Cadillac tax on expensive health plans and an independent Medicare-cutting commission — that the drug makers have come to accept that their deal may have to be modified, the lobbyists said.
Some industry lobbyists say the added costs could come to as much as $20 billion more.
The deal with Big Pharma has been controversial, not least of all because it was cut by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) — and then endorsed by the White House — without any input from House Democrats. That move riled some lower-chamber leaders, including Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who stuck a provision into the House bill that would break the deal by allowing states to negotiate directly with drug makers on behalf of their lowest-income seniors — one of the major differences between the two chambers’ bills that will have to be ironed out during the conference negotiations.
Of note, the $20 billion in additional concessions the industry is expecting is much less than Waxman’s provision asks. Indeed, a similar proposal shot down by the Finance Committee was estimated to save the government more than $100 billion.