Drug Industry To Spend $150 Million To Support Obama In Health Overhaul Efforts
According to Associated Press sources, "The nation's drugmakers stand ready to spend $150 million to help President Barack Obama overhaul health care this fall, according to numerous officials, a staggering sum that could dwarf attempts to derail his chief domestic priority ... The campaign, now in its early stages, includes television advertising under PhRMA's own name and commercials aired in conjunction with the liberal group, Families USA."
"Any health care bill that makes it to Obama's desk is expected to extend health insurance to the nearly 50 million who now lack it. That would mean a huge new pool of potential customers for drug companies and other health care providers ... Drugmakers were the first group to reach agreement with the White House and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., announcing several weeks ago that they would absorb $80 billion in costs over a decade."
"(W)ith the legislation under attack, the industry is providing key support during August as Republicans work to inflict a high-profile defeat on the president ... Jim Messina, a deputy White House chief of staff who is deeply involved in the administration's health care effort, brought Democratic senators up to date recently on the help PhRMA, labor unions and other outside groups are providing" (Espo, 8/9).
The New York Times, also quoting sources, reports: "The unusually large scale of the industry's commitment to the cause helps explain some of a contentious back-and-forth playing out in recent days between the odd-couple allies over a deal that the White House struck with the industry in June to secure its support."
"With House Democrats moving to extract more than that just as the drug makers finalized their advertising plans, the industry lobbyists pressed the Obama administration for public reassurances that it had agreed to cap the industry's additional costs at $80 billion. The White House, meanwhile, has struggled to mollify its most pivotal health industry ally without alienating Congressional Democrats who want to demand far more of the drug makers. White House officials could not immediately be reached for comment" (Kirkpatrick, 8/9).