Thursday, December 17, 2009
The American people – you and me – are struggling to change the way they buy medical services. It’s about nothing less than the quality of our lives and how long we live. We’re doing this through our elected representatives in the House, the Senate and the Oval Office. The inexperienced and naïve “phenom” we elected President has mismanaged the legislative process. A superfluous Senate, vestigial remnant of the origins of our democracy, has re-affirmed its uselessness. And the House… Well, the House is what it is, way too many people (495) treading water between elections.
What can we do but sigh, remind ourselves that, in the world of our politics, they – the President, Senate and House – are “family,” let them do their thing and hope for the best. They are, after all, us.
On Tuesday, just two days ago, the Senate failed to muster the minimum 60 votes necessary to allow the importing of prescription drugs from Canada where they are very much less expensive. It was, you would think, a no brainer, a bill which should passed by unanimous decree, but it didn’t. It failed, not because of some easily resolvable FDA concerns about protecting the American people from bogus product, but because of a deal President Obama struck with representatives of the pharmaceutical manufactures in June to help cut costs and improve the distribution of drugs through Medicare. If you’re wondering what that deal cost us, it is, in part, the billions and billions we would have saved by buying prescription drugs from Canada and other qualified foreign countries. It was a deal, an old style, closed door arrangement between the President and industry lobbyists that bypassed legislative process, at our expense.
Just to be clear, in the democracy that lives in my head, no one has to ask any industry permission to do anything. Sure, there are always economic issues to consider, but companies, whatever their resources, don’t get to vote. The President should have demanded the concessions made by the pharmaceutical manufacturers, instead of paying for them out of our pockets.
Healthcare reform legislation should between we, the people, and our elected representatives. No industry has a place at our table. This is strictly family business.
When the Senate voted on Tuesday, they (and the President when he struck his deal) had a choice between offending the companies who make our prescription drugs or the American people. Okay, we see how that went. In November 2010 and 2012, it will be our turn.