Health Care Reform Endgame: Old People Matter More Than Poor People


The Sunlight Foundation reports on a "last minute deal" between pharmaceutical companies and health care reformers. The upshot? Old people covered by Medicare matter more than poor people covered by Medicaid.

According to the Associated Press, Senator Max Baucus stated in an interview that the pharmaceutical industry agreed to provide an additional $10 billion to cover the coverage gap in Medicare Part D known as the "donut hole" in exchange for eliminating the expansion of drug discounts at certain health facilities initially included in the Senate health care bill.

The Senate health care bill would have expanded drug discounts under a Medicaid program that serves over 14,000 covered facilities. The Medicaid 340B program provides outpatient discounts on brand name drugs to a variety of health facilities that serve low-income communities. The provision removed in the reconciliation bill would have expanded access to the discount program to cover inpatient drug purchases….

More here. Big PhRma spent about $100 million in "grassroots" activity and advertising in favor of health care reform.

The AP notes the following:

"Pharma came out of this better than anyone else," said Ramsey Baghdadi, a Washington health policy analyst who projects a $30 billion, 10-year net gain for the industry. "I don't see how they could have done much better."

Costly brand-name biotech drugs won 12 years of protection against cheaper generic competitors, a boon for products that comprise 15 percent of pharmaceutical sales. The industry will have to provide 50 percent discounts beginning next year to Medicare beneficiaries in the "doughnut hole" gap in pharmaceutical coverage, but those price cuts plus gradually rising federal subsidies will mean more elderly people will purchase more drugs.

Lobbyists beat back proposals to allow importation of low-cost medicines and to have Medicare negotiate drug prices with companies. They also defeated efforts to require more industry rebates for the 9 million beneficiaries of both Medicare and Medicaid, and to bar brand-name drugmakers' payments to generic companies to delay the marketing of competitor products.

More here.

I'm all in favor of drugs. And health care too. And free markets. What a shame that whatever behemoth just passed will stave off anything approaching free markets in drugs and health care for another decade or so. But at least by then, we'll actually know what was in the law that was just created.

Note for future legislation: Remember, the poor you will have with you always, whereas the old might die but will be replaced immediately by similarly motivated and connected folks.

Hat tip: Ted Smith's Twitter feed.

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  1. Hat tip: Ted Smith’s Twitter feed.


  2. Woohoo! I’m hoping to be old, and I’m not poor!
    Gimme gimme gimme!

  3. I got a bright fucking idea….

    Don’t want corporations involving themselves in the Legistlative process through Lobbying?

    How about stop making Legislation that seeks to control them.

  4. Old people covered by Medicare matter more than poor people covered by Medicaid.

    Well, duh. Old people vote.

    1. Beat me to it. Also, if I remember correctly, AARP is the single largest PAC in the United States. AFAIK, there is no “American Association of Poor People”.

      1. I was a member of AARP for a few weeks. I quit several months ago when they came out in favor of the Health Care Bill.
        I realized it was the American Association of Raging Pedophiles as in let’s screw our kids by claiming more benefits and leaving them to pay the bills when we’re dead.
        What a greedy bunch of old bastards organization. I’m sorry I was ever a member.

        1. You are forgiven. Although you should have known that the AARP has been raping children for decades.

          1. Thanks. I like that better: American Association of Rapist Pedophiles.

  5. Well, duh. Old people vote.
    Also, old people are the richest age group by assets. High asset wealth gives you political power, high income means you are gathering political power.
    So naturally most social welfare is taking money from people with high income but low assets to give to those with high assets but low income.

  6. Health Care Reform Endgame: Old People Matter More Than Poor People

    This was also Health Care Reform Pregame and Midgame, too.

    Don’t forget that the biggest part of Health Care Reform involves young healthy people paying higher premiums in order to subsidize mostly older, mostly wealthier people. It’s made even worse by noting that all old people were young once, and most of them were healthy, but some young healthy people will die of accidents and never be old.

    Does it make sense for someone who will never get to be old to subsidize someone who got to enjoy youth and live to old age?

  7. This was also Health Care Reform Pregame and Midgame, too.

    And let us not forget all the Health Care Reform Mindgames.

  8. So all of what the old folks were feeding me the “SS and Medicare can work if we reform the entitlements to shift benefits to the people who really need it” line were just bullshitting. The only reforms they want to make is MORE entitlement just for being a certain age. Still no word on making these programs solvent. This is why I think that the only way to move forward is to end these programs for everyone under 55, and give a small buy out to everyone between 45 and 55, and just cut taxes on everyone else by a wide margin, reducing SS and Medicare taxes to zero on everyone under 35. If you keep the entitlements in place, people will just keep asking for more while making the exact opposite of the necessary reforms.

  9. The cost of health care in the U.S. is too high. We spend over 16% of our entire GDP on it and still have a material number of uninsured and a very large number of underinsured in this country. And the cost continues to skyrocket upwards leaving more and more uninsured and underinsured.

    But we can spend over $700 billion this year on military spending to protect Europe from nobody, wealthy asian countries, and fight wars in the Middle East we shouldn’t even be in without so much as a hiccup.

    We doubled our national debt under Bush in a mere 8 years and it increased from there to over $14 trillion under Obama.

    We won’t decertify government unions and end tenure placing government employees on the same level as private sector employees.

    We won’ do anything we should do but we will steal from old people’s medicare and social security funds.


    1. Here’s a comparison chart from 2006 showing how lousy AND expensive our medical care in this country is compared to other industrialized nations.


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