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Obama Administration Scraps Medicare Part D Rule Change

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    The Obama Administration announced that it will drop a roundly criticized proposal that would have allowed insurers to limit the number of drugs they cover for recipients of Medicare. The Administration, in an attempt to control rising prescription drug costs, was going to allow insurers to halve the classes of drugs that must adhere to strict rules that require them to cover nearly every medication within those classes. The proposed change would have allowed only three classes of drugs--cancer, HIV and anti-seizure medications--to be subject to the new rules.

    The about face come after withering criticism from many in the Presidents own party and no help from Republicans. It also goes to show the absolute hypocrisy of everything that comes out Republicans mouths. The party that wants the Government out of health care is the same party that accuses the President of trying to change Medicare in the name of fiscal responsibility.

    Medicare Part D, the massive give out to prescription drug companies that the Bush Administration put on our nations credit card, needs to be reformed. It is unsustainable in its current form and we will come to regret the day that we allowed drug companies to determine the price that the Government pays to them. The Government is currently paying $1,517 per beneficiary per year for prescription drugs and that number is only expected to increase. What President Obama tried to do was get a handle of that before it spirals out of control.

    What does everyone think of today's rule change? Do you disagree with my assessment that Medicare Part D needs to be reformed, regardless of the political football that it would create? Or was the Administration wrong in trying to get control of the out of control entity that is Big Pharma?
  • Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Jared --

    I can't make an informed opinion on the specific question you have asked. However, in the broader perspective, I will share this:

    Brand-Name vs. Generic Drug Costs

    I can appreciate that drug companies need to charge higher prices to offset research costs, but the companies are extremely profitable. Here are just two examples from the list as to why they are so profitable.

    Lipitor 10 mg quantity 30 Cost $141.60 Generic cost $22.50

    Prozac 20 mg quantity 60 Cost $477.60 Generic cost $3.00

    Take a look at the list...there's more that will open your eyes.

    Medicare by law is not allowed to negotiate the price of drugs nor can they import drugs from Canada or other countries.

    Americans also use more drugs per capita than any other country in the world. I would guess a lot of them are unnecessary, perhaps pushed by the patient in watching TV ads.

    I would like to see all TV ads for prescription drugs banned from TV...especially those for "erectile dysfunction" and the like.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    This is one topic that really gets to me because I have a degree in Healthcare Management and was intending on going into "the field" until I realized how corrupt and inhumane the entire system is. I took many classes that focused on the marketing of drugs and other medical equipment to maximize the highest profit possible. Needless to say, I got the degree but didn't last in the field longer than three months before I walked out of the job.

    Would you be surprised if I told you that Big Pharma companies spend more than twice as much on advertising as they do on "research and development"? The latest numbers show that for every one dollar spent on R&D for a particular drug, $19 dollars are spent on advertising. Not just that, but most R&D typically comes up with very minor variations to drugs that already exist and there hasn't been a major drug breakthrough, i.e. penicillin, in many years.

    The legislation that created Medicare Part D is the sole reason why we can't negotiate with other countries. Big Pharma was very persistent on that. What's even more crazy is that Canada buys those same drugs from Big Pharma for a fraction of the price because they have cost controls, but Americans have to spend twenty times as much because we Americans love the "free market" so much. Unfortunately the free market in this case means that we get charged a whole lot more than every other country in the world for medication that American countries come up with.

    Another badly needed reform is the patent life time. Why do these companies that come up with a variant of an already existing drug get a ten year monopoly on it? I can see if they came up with a breakthrough drug, but mixing the cocktail around and saying that it's a brand new drug shouldn't get that length of a patent.

    You are correct that Americans use more drugs than any other country in the world. I would even take the "per capita" out of that sentence. And yes, advertising is the main reason for that. Americans are convinced that a pill will cure all of their aches and pains. What ever happened to diet and exercise?
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    How many members of Congress are OWNED by big pharma? I don't know, but it's too many.

    M O N E Y. That's the root of the problem.

    M O N E Y. Most of what's wrong with government and the way it does business comes back to money.

    And you are correct that Americans aren't going to give up their pills.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    Trust me, I know. It's an absolute shame that Americans pay ten times as much for prescription drugs than the rest of the world. It's even more of a shame that American companies sell them to the rest of the world for a fraction of what they charge Americans. Like I said--this is what America gets for our love of the "free market."
  • Other Party
    Nebraska
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    Yeah, I would say that in this instance the term "free market" is an oxymoron.

    Paying 10 times as much---hardly free, nor free market.