"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Saving Businesses That Save Lives

According to Blue Jersey Ferguson Disingenuous on Part D. The blog post takes Congressman Mike Ferguson (R) to task as “a prime sponsor of the Medicare Part D prescription benefit which most folks find too expensive, confusing and problematic.” Blogger huntsu finds Ferguson to be disingenuous because one, the congressman is grateful for a drug that extended his mother’s life and two, because Ferguson opposes repeal of the provision that prevents Medicare from negotiating directly with drug companies on prescription prices.

It is not necessary to have a loved one enrolled in the Medicare prescription drug plan to be grateful for pharmaceutical companies and their employees who have researched and developed the drugs that cure, relieve suffering and extend lives.

Ferguson recently lost his mother to multiple myeloma, but not before Celegene's Revlimid allowed her three more years of life. For him, the issue is passionately personal: "Price controls of any sort not only hurt seniors," he says. "They hurt our children and grandchildren who suffer with Parkinson's, cancer and juvenile diabetes."
Drug company owners – individual stockholders and pension plans – deserve a fair return on their investment for their risk. Without a profitable pharmaceutical industry the medical miracles we take for granted would not exist and Congressman Mike Ferguson can hardly be considered disingenuous for stating an economic fact.

A recent article from the Washington Post – Success of Drug Plan Challenges Democrats - refutes the left’s usual talking points on Medicare Part D. Beginning with the fact that 80 percent of the 22.5 million seniors who have enrolled in the program are satisfied and the cost has turned out to be lower than projected.
The cost of the program has been lower than expected, about $26 billion in 2006, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The cost was projected to rise to $45 billion next year, but Medicare has received new bids indicating that its average per-person subsidy could drop by 15 percent in 2007, to $79.90 a month.
For a big government entitlement program, Medicare Part D has been more successful than anyone could have hoped.
Urban Institute President Robert D. Reischauer, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office, called that a remarkable record for a new federal program.

Initially, he said, people were worried no private plans would participate. "Then too many plans came forward," Reischauer said. "Then people said it's going to cost a fortune. And the price came in lower than anybody thought. Then people like me said they're low-balling the prices the first year and they'll jack up the rates down the line. And, lo and behold, the prices fell again. And the reaction was, 'We've got to have the government negotiate lower prices.' At some point you have to ask: What are we looking for here?"
Our guess is that the left is looking for an issue to demagogue. Some have bought into the left’s propaganda if you’ll recall the woman who believed she was a victim of the Medicare Part D program that enabled her to reduce her annual cost for prescription drugs from $10,562 to $1,620 - her annual “doughnut hole” covered drug plan premium. Her view is apparently representative of the 20 percent of enrollees dissatisfied with Medicare Part D and one the left hopes will become conventional wisdom about the program. Perpetrating this false perception is necessary in order to bring about the left’s solution to the “problem” – “greedy drug companies” must have their profits curtailed though what would amount to price controls for the common good.

Medicare recipients account for half of all drug prescriptions. With that kind of clout, government might try to dictate prices, not just negotiate them. This could leave people without drugs that manufacturers decide aren't sufficiently profitable under the plan. The VA plan illustrates the point. It offers 1,300 drugs, compared with 4,300 available under Part D, prompting more than one-third of retired veterans to enroll in Medicare drug plans. Lower prices also create less incentive for research. That, though, is an issue in any attempt to control costs.
Now that the election is over some responsible Democrats have decided reality can again be the basis for discussing Medicare Part D.
Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.), who is in line to become chairman of a key health subcommittee, said he prefers a middle path, with Medicare setting ceilings from which private insurers could negotiate downward.

But Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), the incoming Senate Finance chairman, is cool to the idea of government negotiation, and has committed only to holding hearings to "determine what the result would be of eliminating" the no-negotiation clause.
Apparently, Mike Ferguson is not alone in believing our market based system works:

The theory behind Part D is that market forces and competition among drug plans, overseen by government, can achieve better results than a government-run program. The multitude of plans allows seniors to pick one that best meets their needs. Both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and Medicare actuaries have said they doubt the government could negotiate lower costs than the private sector.
For the sake of people throughout the world, we hope the left is thwarted in their attempt to destroy the life saving and enhancing pharmaceutical industry in the United States. We remain cautiously optimistic, although we must confess the day after the midterm elections we sold every share of stock we owned in drug companies. Living in Blue Jersey we know just how powerful the left can be and how destructive their polices are to an economy and the wellbeing of citizens.

Keep up the good work Mike Ferguson!


At 9:53 AM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...

First, I agree completely. Second, I am particularly puzzled why people in New Jersey seem so prepared to stick it to the "greedy pharmaceutical companies", given the number of Garden Staters who are employed by those same companies and the number of people in the state who work for companies, or own their own businesses, that provide goods and services to pharmaceutical companies (e.g. construction trades) and their employees.

At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope you are busy working on something juicy, because this posting is lame. Come-on get back to the Corzine bashing, I need a fix.

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Jim - PRS said...


Maybe you need your own blog.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Ken Adams said...


Anon doesn't need a blog, Anon needs a clue. Preferably administered with a clue-by-four.


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