Read time: 2 minutes

The Rachel Maddow Show: Pulling The Trigger On The Public Option

Rachel Maddow talks to David Sirota about why including a "trigger" in the health care bill is a poison pill that assures we won't have any real refor
Views:

Rachel Maddow talks to David Sirota about why including a "trigger" in the health care bill is a poison pill that assures we won't have any real reform. David reiterates what he wrote in his op-ed The Trigger Mechanism:

Recall that over the last decade, a maverick group of progressive and conservative lawmakers pushed bills to let Americans purchase cheaper, FDA-approved prescription drugs from other industrialized nations. It was (and is) a commonsense idea - other countries allow importation, and the practice helps lower health costs by permitting consumers to buy medicines at the lowest world market price, not just at an artificially inflated domestic premium.

As with today's public option surveys, polls on importation showed strong national support for the concept. So rather than murder the drug legislation outright, congressional leaders joined the Clinton and Bush administrations in backing a "compromise": Importation bills were passed, but only those that gave the secretary of Health and Human Services the power to trigger - or not trigger - final implementation.

Specifically, the secretary would have to first certify that imported medicines were "safe" (drug companies promote the lie that Canadian medicine is mortally dangerous - prompting Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, an importation proponent, to ask, "Where are the dead Canadians"?).

This trigger provision, of course, was lobbyists' poison pill - and it worked as they planned. Importation has never been implemented, as no HHS secretary has pulled the trigger. Hence, Americans are still barred from wholesale importation of lower-priced medicine - and pharmaceutical industry profiteering continues.

The moral of the story is that triggers are just another version of the old Blue Ribbon Commission trick. They are designed not as good public policy, but as devious political tactics to help dishonest lawmakers look like they support popular measures - all while guaranteeing those measures never become reality.

On importation, triggers gave corporatist politicians a way to seem like they were remaining true to their pro-consumer platitudes and "free trade" dogma at the same time they were strengthening an extreme form of anti-consumer protectionism for pharmaceutical companies.

We Need Your Help Now More Than Ever

For 17 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook and social media are drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or subscribe for an ad-free experience.

More C&L Coverage

Discussion

New Commenting System

Our comments are now powered by Insticator. In order to comment you will need to create an Insticator account. The process is quick and simple. Please note that the ability to comment with a C&L site account is no longer available.

We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service (revised 3/17/2016) for information on our posting policy.

Please Do Not Use the Login Link at the Top of the Site.

In order to comment you must use an Insticator account. To register an account, enter your comment and click the post button. A dialog will then appear allowing you create your account.

We will be retiring our Crooks and Liars user account system in January, 2021.

Thank you.
C&L Team