I just watched Tom Carper (D-DE) argue that the Senate should not vote to close the donut loophole for all seniors (44 million people) by returning the rate the government pays for drugs going to just to dual-eligible seniors (8 million people, mostly in nursing homes) to the rate paid prior to Bush's 2003 Medicare bill. Why? Because "we" made an agreement to limit Pharma's cuts to $80 billion, and it "wouldn't be fair" to go back on that agreement. Never mind that Tom Carper wasn't in the room when the agreement was made. Never mind that the existing donut hole is grossly unfair to seniors at or above the donut hole while accomplishing very little in terms of effective cost control (most recipients in the donut hole who can't afford the medicine just ... forgo the medicine rather than find some sort of magic plan). Never mind that sticking it to PhrMA is one of the bigger pots of money out there, and that other spending cuts are likely to involve lower-margin sectors such as hospitals, insurers (it's true! health insurance isn't as high margin), or providers. No, we can't push PhrMA further because that "wouldn't be fair".
If you'll excuse me, I'm going to retire to the warm embrace of some hard liquor.
For all the heat given to Max Baucus and Kent Conrad, Tom Carper was today's Wanker of the Day by a country mile. At least those two had the good sense to keep their mouths shut.
Voting starts on Wednesday at 9:30 am Eastern. Watch the gentleman from Delaware closely.
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