When campaigning, Sheldon Whitehouse declared that the issue that really “stuck in his craw” was that of the very flawed medicare prescription drug plan for seniors. Now is your chance to start shining on this issue, Senator Whitehouse. While some analysts are saying that Whitehouse will be “understated” and “low-key,” I hope he will not be silent when unfair criticisms are made of the legislation to reform the program and make it more affordable for average citizens, and less drug-company-profiteering-friendly. We all know that drug companies need to make a profit to fund further research and so on, but even Steve Laffey (conservative mayor turned US-Senator-wanna-be) acknowledged that with a few billion shaved off their profit margins by negotiating prices, the drug companies will still “do fine.”
Bill Scher of The Campaign for America’s Future points out the media bias on medicare legislation and suggests ways that Democrats can counter unjustified criticisms of the reforms:
On the “news” side, we have particularly egregious piece broadly claiming that “experts” don’t believe the Democratic Medicare proposal will work like the Veterans Administration drug plan, because it does not create the kind of restrictive list of covered drugs that the VA has, allowing the VA to threaten companies with being taken off the list. And over on the oped page, the Post gives free ink to Bush’s Health and Human Services Secretary so he can make the same claims.
But nowhere in the Post does it mention what the experts at Families USA reported on Tuesday to debunk that argument: the VA list of covered drugs is not as restrictive as Big Pharma fans claim. Vets have access to drugs not on the list, and the VA’s negotiating drives down prices for those drugs too — lower than what’s currently available under Medicare.
Keep that info in mind as the debate moves forward, and drop a line to the W. Post and tell them to report the whole story.
Bill Scher blogs for Campaign for America’s Future