Cantor takes $168K from Big Pharma, then does their bidding

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    To understand why Eric Cantor is one of the most disingenuous and challenged members of Congress when it comes to ethics, look no further than his irrational opposition to a proposal from the White House allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug rates for seniors – a change that could shave from $50 billion to $100 billion from the budget deficit.

    According to an article yesterday afternoon from Politico , the proposal restores rebates paid by brand-name drug makers for the “dual eligible” population  – those seniors eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.

    This one seems like a no-brainer. Indeed, GOP opposition to the bill appears to be cracking, Politico reports.

    Big Pharma, of course, opposes the change — and why shouldn’t they, as it means billions in additional revenues for the industry, courtesy of the United States government. The industry threatens that if the government takes this step to save taxpayer money at their expense, they might just take their operations overseas.

    So much for caring about America and Americans.

    Why, then, is Cantor is one of their most rabid defenders on Capital Hill.

    (The gruesome answer is on the flip)

    According to Politico, “Cantor view[s] the proposal as government-backed price controls. … yet another layer of regulatory burden from a government agency that has an increasingly heavy hand.”

    Is he serious?

    Whatever the merits of that purely ideological perspective, given the budget deficit and the political consensus that something must be done to address that issue, does this make sense? Is the right of pharmaceutical companies to gouge taxpayers for as much as they can really the kind of principle for which we want our representatives in Congress going to mat? At some level, doesn’t practicality and, Hell, just pure common sense trump rigid ideology?

    Of course it does.

    Oh, did I mention Cantor received $168,050 in contributions in 2010 alone from the pharmaceutical industry?

    This is not a case of Cantor’s Conservative ideology leading to a policy position; Rather, IMHO, this appears to be a case of Cantor cynically exploiting the legitimate Conservative beliefs of hundreds of thousands of Virginians to enable his huge contributions from the pharmaceutical industry.

    Why do Conservatives tolerate this?  

    • glennbear

      His opposition is of course pandering to his contributors. That aside, Wal-Mart started offering low cost prescriptions to their customers which forced others to do the same. How were they able to do this? Their huge volume of wholesale purchases enabled them to negotiate prices. Medicare purchases are even larger therefor price negotiation should be a given. I am sure we have all heard the story of Medicare/Medicaid patients going to Wal-Mart and paying cash for their RX’s since it was less expensive than the Medicare co-pay. There is something inherently wrong with that picture. The threat of moving their operations overseas is just fearmongering using the jobs buzzword by Pharma. The reality of it is that Cantor and others of his ilk do not give a hoot about jobs moving overseas but rather they know that once an RX maker moves offshore they no longer have any incentive to make contributions (bribes) to legislators. My own RX’s are through the NJ State Health Benefits plan and last year the RX provider changed as a result of competitive bidding between NJ and RX plan providers. The GOP thunders about “free enterprise” and “competition” why not let the federal government foster competition by soliciting bids for Medicare/Medicaid RX’s ? A majority of purchases for goods and services made with our federal tax dollars are a result of competitive bidding, why shouldn’t RX’s be subject to the same process ?

    • glennbear

      I am definitely not a champion of Big Pharma but I feel some clarification is in order. My late father worked in the wholesale RX sector for many years and at that time drugs went from the manufacturer to the wholesaler to the corner drug store which is now admittedly a vanishing entity. The large drug store chains now buy directly from makers and thus do their own warehousing/wholsale purchases. If anything today in most cases there are fewer “middlemen” in the retail market. As far as safety of foreign made RX’s, the FDA does oversee offshore manufacturing although admittedly it is a more difficult task. Details are here:

      http://www.fda.gov/AboutFDA/Tr

      A problem of greater concern with “middlemen” is the “distributors” of durable medical goods who impose a drastic markup on such goods to the detriment of Medicare patients and the Medicare program itself.