Critical Condition

They’ll Hang the Last Pill-Pusher with the Entrails of the Last Insurance Exec

While everyone was scrambling for the best seat at the table during the federal takeover of access to medical services, it looks like the pharmaceutical industry “won” the game of musical chairs. Last Friday, Big Pharma trade-association chief Billy Tauzin let it be known that the White House promised that the first industry group that made a solid deal would be protected from further harm.

Now we learn that the industry has authorized $150 million for TV advertising that supports the president’s proposed take-over.

Well, I suppose that they might as well divert their ad budgets from pushing Lipitor and Viagra. After the take-over, it’ll be just “red pill” or “blue pill” — whichever is cheapest. (I don’t suppose we should be surprised: Look at the ridiculous spectacle of oil & gas companies pressured into spending their ad dollars on “green” campaigns.)

And it explains why the ruling party has turned the guns of August exclusively on health insurers — Nancy Pelosi’s “villains.” (They never made a deal, according to Mr. Tauzin, which was news to me. I guess they just unilaterally caved in — fat lot of good it did them.)

This is not going over well on the Left. The Huffington Post, bless its heart, has compiled a video-collage of Senator Obama on the campaign trail in 2008, promising to fix Medicare drug prices and generally wreak havoc on the pill-pushers.

I anticipate that the insurers will not easily forget being shoved aside by Big Pharma. When the president remembers his recently forgotten pledge to cram down drug prices — as he surely will — Big Pharma will call to its allies in the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D drug programs (which are run by private insurers without government price-fixing) to help push back. The call will likely go unanswered.

— John R. Graham is director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

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