Grappling With Big PharmaMay 08, 2007 at 12:17 PM by Bill Scher
Despite the progressive gains that were made last November, the special interests are still alive and kicking.
In particular, the pharmaceutical lobby has scored two big wins the Senate this year -- a successful filibuster of a bill to empower Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices, and the scuttling of a provision allowing cheaper drugs to be imported from Canada.
These are issues where the drug lobby managed to get its way, even though the vast majority of the public wants our government to take action to make prescription drugs affordable.
Yet at the time of these votes, the public was not nearly as engaged as Big Pharma.
Why do you think that is? Is it the media's fault? The drug lobby's fault? Did we activists fall down on the job? Is it too hard to grab people's attention when there is so much bloodshed and scandal happening all at once?
What can we all do at Take Back America so, going forward, we'll be better able to galvanize the public when it counts? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
I'm writing about the junk Medicare Part D prescription drug program. Merely giving the Medicare administration the power to negotiate drug prices will not do anything for people like myself. I have waited 8 years for medication coverage. The Republicans created 2 classes of beneficiaries: 22 million Medicaid beneficiaries who ALREADY had medication coverage got hijacked by the Republicans into this program to hide the meagerness of the benefit of those people who had social security retirement benefits and social security disability benefits but did not have medication coverage who by means test get a meager 20 percent discount on average. I did the math and the 35 dollars a month premiums, and the 250 dollar deductible and the coverage gap would mean people paying 5 thousand dollars for medications would get 1 thousand dollars back. People paying 2 thousand dollars for medication would get 975 dollars back and those who only have 670 dollars of medication to buy would get nothing back. At worst some people get nothing back, some people get 25 percent back and some people get 50 percent back. This appears hardly a benefit to people like me.
I want to see congress enact a prescription drug benefit covering 80 percent of medication regardless of income, meaning there exists no means test, no coverage gap, no late sign up penalty for the drug benefit and place it in Medicare Part B, where people can go to the pharmacy, show their Medicare Card and Social security card and pay only 20 percent of the medication cost at the pharmacy counter. Then the pharmacy can then get their reimbursement similar to the way doctors get reimbursement in Medicare part B. I don't care if congress repeals part D but this new benefit in Part B will let elderly people and disabled people vote with their feet and leave the junk Medicare Part D program until it withers on the vine. The new 2007 drug benefit in Medicare Part B will get run by the government and not a consortium of insurance companies. Also this new benefit in Part B implies that you pay only the 90 dollar part B monthly premium and nothing extra and the 125 dollar yearly deductible and nothing extra.
Also I want to see that the congress repeal the general means test for Medicare Part B that the Republicans snuck in to the 2003 law gets repealed. The Part B program should remain universal and not means tested.
This concerns something that in my view appears something that millions of elderly and disabled people really want because they probably have not enrolled in Medicare Part D and want a real benefit or they merely signed up in part D with a barebones plan that they never intended to use in order to avoid premium hikes in the future due to late sign up penalties.
I have a plan to force congress to do what I have described. Get every person that you can to call Walmart at 1 800 WALMART, Eckerd at 800-325-3737 , CVS at 888 607-4287 , and Walgreens at 800 289-2273 and Demand a real prescription drug benefit. Tell the person in the public relations department "Unless you get your CEO to get the congress and the pResident to enact a repeal of the means test in Medicare Part B, a rollback of the monthly premium of Medicare Part B to 60 dollars a month and cancel Bush's tax cuts to the wealthy above $200,000 a year of income, which should help pay for this new benefit and place a simple prescription drug benefit covering 80 percent of medication in Medicare Part B, with no means test, no extra premium, no extra deductible, no coverage gap and no late sign up penalties, I will never buy any consumer products in your pharmacy again and I will never buy any medications from your pharmacy ever again."
Only If you cannot switch your drug purchases from any of these pharmacies then when you call the 4 pharmacy chains, tell the pharmacy chain that you cannot switch from, I will not buy any consumer products from your stores until they get the CEO to get the Republican party to get a real prescription drug benefit as described above. Then continue to get your medications from the chain you remain stuck with. Then tell the other 3 pharmacy chains that you will buy nothing from them.
Do this for yourself, your parents and grandparents.
This will prove more effective than merely calling your congressman or woman because you will pressure the donors to Republican and conservative and moderate Democratic officeholders to get what we want or they lose millions of people's business and their customers money.
I hope you will join me in one of the largest economic movements for social justice.
Chairman, Liberal Democratic party of the United States.
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"The Republican party appears weak and vulnerable at the cash registers of those companies that donate money to them."
I want to include one more point. I realize that progressive activists act sincere. However progressive activists ask the wrong people for progressive legislation while Republicans can filibuster and veto while democrats do not have a veto proof progressive majority in congress. I regret that because of my disability I cannot attend the conference so I make my points known here.
Progressive activists need to explicitly place balme on those people who obstruct passing progressive legislation and take it out on the campaign contributors of these people.
For the last eight years I have told people to place economic pressure on the donors to the Republican party through people making phone calls telling these donors that we will boycott their products until their CEO persuades conservatives in both Republican and Democratic parties to pass progressive legislation and enact other progressive action.
I have spoken to people in progressive action groups and they have not agreed with my strategy of boycotting of Republican donors yet we have had impeachment of Bill Clinton in the past, 2 stolen elections, excessive tax cuts for Republican waelthy people, an invasion of Iraq based on lies for oil company profits, a means tested prescription drug law that does not help the middle class but rather gives low income people who already had drug coverage in Medicaid a slightly less of a benefit and brought them in to hide the meagerness of the benefit for the middle class and enriches drug companies, insurance companies and the large pharmacy chains and the traitors at AARP led by the conservatives Bill Novelli and John Rother.
So while over the last 8 years progressive organizations have made nice with Republicans, they have cleaned our clock. Well no longer shall we play nice with Republicans. We should call their donors and demand the progressive legislation that we want.
Look at http://www.dmocrats.org and see the comprehensive agenda that I have for America and the list of companies that we should contact and demand the progressive legislation from them or they lose our business.
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