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Medicare Part D
Added to Medicare as a drug supplement, it contains a provision that prohibits the government from negotiating drug prices with the drug companies. The estimated cost over 10 years is $500 Billion. The restriction against negotiation accounts for half of the cost ($250 Billion over ten years). The Veterans Administration is allowed to negotiate drug costs and pays about half of what Medicare D pays for the same drugs.
A 60 Minutes segment aired on 4/1/07 describes the disgraceful Republican led effort to pass it. On that show two Republican Congressmen (Walter Jones of N.C. and Dan Burton of Ind) describe the drug lobbyist "frenzy" to pass the bill as the "ugliest night" they have seen in politics. 60 Minutes makes the following points:
1) The bill was over 1000 pages (written by the drug companies) and was given to Congressmen the morning of the vote.
2) The vote was held at 3 AM and the vote was held open for 3 hours (normal is 15 minutes) while the acting Speaker repeatedly asked members to change their votes. Groups of Republican Congressional leaders went around the floor threatening Congressmen to get favorable votes. The vote was closed as soon as a favorable vote was gained.
3) The cost estimate was raised from $400 Billion to $500 Billion before the vote but the higher estimate was kept from Congressmen until after the vote.
4) The floor leader for the bill, Congressman Billy Tauzin, R-La., retired from the House and took a $2 Million per year job as chief lobbyist for the drug industry. In his speech before the vote he praised six Congressmen and staffers. All now work for the drug industry.
Hobson voted for the bill as an obvious payoff for the $171,000 he has received from the drug industry.
A bill rescinding the no negotiation provision has passed the Democratic controlled House. Hobson voted against allowing negotiation of drug prices. It did not pass in the Republican controlled Senate.