This afternoon, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI) joined the authors of the new Institute for America’s Future report, “The Waste and Inefficiency of the Bush Prescription Drug Plan” for a news conference urging the Senate to empower Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.
As Sen. Stabenow declared, “negotiating the best price is the American way.”
Reporters peppered the Senator with one of Big Pharma’s arguments: that the House bill as written wouldn’t give Medicare enough leverage to negotiate well.
The Senator replied, “We have two arguments that are used on this,” that “it’s really not going to make any difference” and it’s going to cut into the drug industry’s enormous profits. Both can’t be true.
Further noting the massive amounts of money Big Pharma is throwing around to kill a bill that supposedly won’t affect prices, Sen. Stabenow said, “Their behavior does not fit the rhetoric.”
Dean Baker put the emphasis on the Bush Administration to follow through in good-faith if the bill passed, stressing that savings would not materialize if Bush’s Health and Human Services secretary — who is publicly opposed to negotiation — didn’t try to drive a hard bargain.
Campaign for America’s Future co-director Roger Hickey announced that versions of the new report will be tailored for all 50 states. And special activities will target states with Senators seen as undecided on the legislation, including: Sens. Norm Coleman (MN), Gordon Smith (OR), John Sununu (NH), George Voinovich (OH), Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME) and Arlen Specter (PA).
Hickey drew a clear line for what the upcoming vote means: “Are you on our side, or are you on the side of the drug industry?”
Edited with minor correction