As Adam Searing noted in a previous post, the drug industry lobbying group PhRMA is running ads supporting Senator Kay Hagan. Although I haven’t seen these ads, they allegedly praise Hagan for supporting a public option. What’s going on here? PhRMA says that it opposes a public option.
I’m no expert on the secret motivations of the drug industry. As I wrote yesterday, Glaxo publicly says that it wants to be a constructive partner while also funding anti-reform right wing noise factories.
I suspect that the drug industry is still trying to curry favor with legislators in swing states. Also, PhRMA may believe that some sort of public option is inevitable, and it wants the weakest plan to prevail.
Hagan really does deserve credit for endorsing a public option, even though it’s not the strong public option I would like to see. There are worse public option ideas circulating in the Senate, like the terrible cooperatives plan. But the public option that came out of Hagan’s committee is much, much weaker than the public option proposed by the House.
The public option from the Senate committee on which Hagan serves is not open to everyone — only the uninsured. It is run by Health and Human Services and will not join with Medicare for bargaining power. Keeping the public option separate from Medicare will check the bargaining power of these programs in negotiations with drug companies.
I would guess that the one result that frightens PhRMA the most is a public plan teaming up with Medicare to drive down drug prices. Hagan isn’t endorsing that idea, and that is probably why the industry is praising her.