Hiding From Plain Oversight

Bill Scher

Last month, the Bush administration began to spin, with the help of The Washington Post, that the Medicare prescription drug plan—which does not allow Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices—was doing great because the private insurers were already negotiating for lower prices.

And in a Blog For Our Future entry, I noted how the Change America Now! Campaign knocked down that spin.

This week, after the House Oversight and Government Reform committee requested the data from Bush’s Medicare officials so it could find out how helpful those negotiations actually were for consumers, guess what?

They won’t release the data.

Kaiser Network’s Daily Health Care Report says committee chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and ranking member Rep. Tom Davis requested the price data so they could determine what the discounts were and if the savings went to consumers or corporate bottom lines.

But Bush’s Medicare administrator Leslie Norwalk, who is pressing Congress to keep the ban preventing Medicare from negotiating, responded that she just can’t tell them about it, claiming it would hurt the insurers’ ability to negotiate.

Ridiculous. We already know what folks in the Veterans Administration program pay for drugs, because the VA has the power to negotiate and is accountable to the public. And we know it’s lower than what Medicare participants pay.

This just looks like the administration can’t back up its Big Pharma-friendly spin, and doesn’t want to be exposed by House oversight.

Bill Scher blogs for Campaign for America’s Future.

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