GOP Obstructionism Continues

A key part of the Democrats’ ‘06 platform was allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices on prescription medication. The idea enjoyed broad public appeal, would save the government money during a difficult budget crunch, passed the House with bi-partisan support, and had the votes to pass the Senate. Right up until Republicans filibustered the legislation to death.

The Senate blocked legislation on Wednesday that would let the government negotiate Medicare drug prices. Democrats couldn’t muster the 60 votes needed to bring the bill up for a vote.

Under the Medicare drug benefit, private insurance plans negotiate with drug makers over the price of medicine for their customers. About 22 million seniors and the disabled are enrolled in such plans. Some lawmakers, mostly Democrats, contend the government could use its leverage to drive a better bargain than individual insurers, which would lower the cost of the program for taxpayers and seniors.

Republicans insist that drug prices have already “come down” and medication is already cheap enough, making the change unncessary. It’s a fairly odd argument to make, since taxpayers “could save as much as $190 billion over the next 10 years” if Medicare negotiated prices with drug makers. The Veterans Administration already negotiates with pharmaceutical companies, and it pays a lot less for medication.

Dems needed 60 votes to break the filibuster and give the legislation an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor. They came up four votes short. Dems lost — as did America’s seniors.

As for the big picture, has everyone noticed how Republicans used to whine incessantly about "obstructionism," but now filibusters everything that moves?


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