Friday, June 17, 2011

Dems, Stark Look To Create $100 Billion In Medicare Part D Savings

By Steven Tavares
Follow @eastbaycitizen on twitter

Big Pharma is extracting huge
profits from Medicare Part D by
effectively charging the federal
government more for drugs.
House Democrats, including Rep. Pete Stark believe cost-savings can be wrung out of Medicare instead of taking a flame-throwing to the venerable health contract.

A bill authored by Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), Sander Levin (D-Mich.), John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), George Miller (D-Calif.), and Rob Andrews (D-NJ) and Stark contends over $100 billion in savings can be created by eliminating what they call a "sweetheart deal for brand-name drug manufacturers" derived from the Medicare Part D drug plan pushed by Republicans in 2006.

“Instead of making devastating cuts to programs that help low-income and middle-income Americans, as Republicans keep putting on the table, we should do what every other industrialized country does and ask the pharmaceutical industry, one of the wealthiest in the world, to chip in," said Stark.

Part D currently allows drug manufacturers to reap larger profits from Medicare by bypassing the payment of large rebates for patients eligible for prescription from both Medicare and Medicaid. According to the legislation, known as "The Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2011" (HR 2190), those rebates would be reinstating along with those for enrollees eligible for low-income benefits.

"This bill shows there are ways to substantially reduce Medicare costs without hurting beneficiaries,” said Levin, the chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The proposed bill can be seen as a response to the plan put forth by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan that would substantially raise payments over the next decade for those now 55 years of age.


  1. Does Stark have any idea what is going on with generic drugs? Many of them are being phased out...leaving the folks to pay for name brand. My girlfriend takes a pill that costs her about $28, but the name brand is about $250.

    If the government has it their way, name brand drugs will increase in cost so WE can pay for medicare costs.

    If only BOTH the Dems and Republicans got their head out of their asses...

  2. either way, there needs to be regulations on the pharm corporations. Charging hundreds of dollars for a pill that costs a couple dollars To produce is ridiculous. All the financial problems with health insurance, hospitals and government health insurance programs are deeply rooted in these tyrannical pharm companies who pull up ridiculous prices out of their ass for the medicine they provide

  3. Generic drugs become avaliable only after a patent has expired. Once the patent expires, generics arrive and remain on the market as a cheaper alternative. New or extended patents can delay the avaliability of generics. It is incorrect to say generics become phased out from the general marketplace. Health insurers sometimes exclude generic drugs from coverage for their premium payers. That does not mean the generics are unavaliable or "phased out".

    If you're concerned about the affordability of medications, then you will be pleased to hear that Pete Stark was a leader in ensuring that Medicare Part D costs will be reduced for the government AND Medicare recipients in future years.

    The Affordable Care Act requires the drug industry to pay billions of dollars annually in new fees beginning in 2012, and provide a 50 percent discount on prescriptions filled through the Medicare Part D coverage gap beginning in 2011. The original law, passed by the Congressional Republicans in 2003 and signed by President Bush, gained none of these revenues. It also prevented the government from negotiating drug prices, allowing Big Pharma to require Medicare to pay whatever the companies wanted to charge.

    These problematic aspects of the law has caused Medicare Part D to be a large driver of Federal debt, and would have endangered the solvency of Medicare in future years. The ACA repairs this damage, will shrink the budget deficit, and improves the financial viability of the much-loved Medicare.

    In addition, the Affordable Care Act has already begun to close the Medicare Part D "donut hole". By the year 2020, the current potential medication obligation of up to $3,610 for Medicare Part D recipients will be completely eliminated.

    So, if Nick had wrote "If Republicans in government have it their way, name brand drugs will increase in cost so WE can pay for medicare costs,", that would have been accurate. That's not what he wanted to say, though, is it?

    Nick intends to misinform the public, or he is misinformed himself. Either is regrettable.

  4. AARP was a strong voice in defeating former President George W. Bush's proposal to privatize some aspects of Social Security. But the group supported Bush's successful effort to start a Medicare prescription drug program, which many liberal groups opposed because they thought it was too generous to drug makers. The program pushed by Bush's team prohibited the negotiation of lower drug prices with "Big Pharma". This is why we pay much more for the same drugs as the Canadians do. Pete Stark spoke out strongly against this and called it a huge giveaway to the drug companies.

  5. Do you idiot's think that a drug just magically comes to market. Only a fool from the East Bay who votes for Pete Stark would not understand how a business operates; research and development you fools.

  6. Yet, somehow, pharmaceutical companies sell medications in Canada and remain in business.


    R & D is plentifully paid for thru patents which give companies exclusive multi-year rights to gain maximum profits from their discoveries. There is also Big Pharma's ability to push American politicians around due to its massive lobbying power, power that comes from their obscene profits and Pharma's willingness to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to defend their feeding from the public trough.

    Anonymous 9:25 brought nothing to the discussion except insults and condescention.

  7. Ray J...nice cut and paste.

    I have to clean up dog crap now, which is like responding to your talking points that avoid a persons personal experiences.

    Carry on.

    Another nice IP address trace.

  8. Proud San LeandranJune 20, 2011 at 6:28 PM

    We fail to understand how your "personal experiences" illustrates a legitimate criticism of Stark.

    Your girlfriend pays $28 for her (presumably generic) meds. You explain that she's not made to pay the $250 charge for the name brand (patented) drug. What has Stark done in this scenario which negatively affects your girlfriend?

    Pete's certainly not supportive of the FDA allowing pharmaceutical companies to abuse their patent rights. He voted "Yes" so we could pass into law what you would call Obamacare, which will allow the Federal government to use its bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices for those insured by Medicare and to save money for the Medicare fund, thus extending the viability of Medicare past its current 2024 solvency date.

    What's the problem here?