Friday, January 12, 2007

Medicare Drug Negotiation Act Passes House

Connecticut Congressman Chris Murphy co-sponsors and supports bill.

This afternoon the House passed H.R. 4, a bill requiring the government to negotiate for lower Medicare drug prices. One of the bill's Co-sponsors was Connecticut's own Rep. Chris Murphy. Earlier today Murphy spoke with reporters (and bloggers) via a conference call about the importance of HR4's passage.

The Bill before us today, H.R.4, which I'm co-sponsor of and I'll be one of the first people to speak on the house floor on, will give the power, in fact will mandate that the federal government through the Secretary of Health and Human Services negotiate lower prices with the drug industry.

Today's vote is an important first step forward and I'm going to be incredibly proud to stand on the house floor this morning and speak on it's behalf, and then to vote for it later this afternoon.

Next the bill heads to the Senate, and if it passes it heads to the President's desk where it faces a possible veto. While emphasizing the bill's bi-partisan support Murphy did talk about the possibility.

I think there will be bi-partisan support for it, in fact one of the primary co-sponsors of the bill in the Senate is a Republican Senator from Maine. I think you'll see Republicans supporting this bill today and though I don't know whether there will be enough votes to override a potential presidential veto, I think there will be certainly a willingness to take that up... If the President wants to veto this I think it's a signal that he's still captivated by the same special interests that we have broken free from.

The Congressman spoke with pride about what the 110th Congress has achieved so far, and well as what he expects to pass next.

I think this has been just a monumental first week and a half for this Congress. Not only have we passed landmark ethics reform legislation but we've already moved forward on stem cell research, on securing the nation through implementing the 9/11 recommendations, and then today on Medicare prescription drug reform. And we're not done yet. Next week we'll pass legislation cutting the interest rates for student loans which will help families and students throughout the country. We'll also pass legislation that will start to build an energy policy based on renewable and alternative energy by removing some of the massive royalties that we've allowed to go to oil companies and turning that around into renewable energy sources.

On an unrelated, but interesting note, Murphy expressed support for Chris Dodd's recently announced Presidential run.

I'm enthusiastically supporting Chris Dodd for president. I think in very trying times like this we'd be lucky to have someone with the domestic and foreign policy experience that Chris Dodd has, sitting in the White House. I think he has a very realistic shot, and anyone who has ever listened to Chris Dodd out on the stump or listened to him expound on important issues of the day know that he is a very powerful communicator. And that's what the Democratic party needs right now and I think that's what the country needs right now.

For those who are interested in reading the bill in it's entirety Spazeboy has it up on his blog. Thanks also go to Spazeboy for reminding me about the conference call this morning.


bluecoat said...

I beleive that Medicare D was a bad bill - the vote was held open fo evr and ever until it passed with shays being one of the latest voters - but I also beleive this legislation was wrongly hurried through (see Norm the monitor I do disagree with cgg on stuff especially healthcare)and so does Charlie rangel who heads up ways and means. He's pissed Pelosi wants to rush through tax policy changes to without open formal hearings - but that's the way it goes and both sides do it and it's perfectly legal.

Anonymous said...

Lowering the interest rates on loans for college tuition is nice, but the obscene cost of a college education today makes the cost of prescription drugs seem paltry.

GMR said...

Meanwhile, there's an issue with the minimum wage bill and how it relates to random Pacific islands. Under the bill, American Samoa would remain exempt from the new minimum wage law (and would instead be subject to $3.60). However, the Northern Marianas would now be subject to the bill. Del Monte, which has its corporate headquarters in Pelosi's district, employs about 75% of the workers in Samoa in its Starkist Tuna cannery. California Rep. George Miller has been highly critical of the garment industry in the Northern Marianas (another US colony or protectorate or whatever).

So if Democrats think that a higher minimum wage is beneficial, don't the people in Samoa need it the most according to that logic?

Anonymous said...

My only issue with this bill is that it isn't what the Democrats claim. They claim that this is "market economics" and the GOP is being hypocritical if they don't support it. There are two problems with this that both center on the fact that this bill is anything BUT a market approach:

1) After this amendment big pharma is still required to sell these drugs to the Medicare. How is that a market? How can you have a negotiation? Unless big pharma can walk away from the negotiating table then it is simply a case of the government setting a price. Take away the requirement of the drug companies to sell to the government, then we can talk markets.

2) On a more theoretical scale, how is it a market approach if a huge government entity, created by government and funded by taxes, is the one doing the negotiating?

Anonymous said...

This is all nice and, of course, great public relations; however, passing bills in the House, which will not be passed in the Senate, is nothing to write home about in my opinion. Moreover, Pelosi is smartly trying to divert our attention away from the only issue that really matters - the war. Remember: it's the war stupid! Sadly, on the most important issue of our day, the Democrats, now in control of Congress have no plan. President Bush has a plan and it is a bad one. The Democrats continue to believe that speaking out against a failed Bush policy in Iraq is leadership. Well, I'm sorry, but it is not. If the Democrats fail to change course in Iraq, then they are failing the American people. The Democrats owe their majority in Congress solely to the fact that Americans wanted change. They must act!

Anonymous said...

I am, well, shocked.

Murphy is supporting Dodd for Prez?

Al Terzi should be breaking in for a special report....

Murph, Smurph

Anonymous said...

how many times is the guy going to end a phrase in a preposition?

"The Bill before us today, H.R.4, which I'm co-sponsor OF and I'll be one of the first people to speak on the house floor ON..."

to his credit though, i never imagined he would know what the word "expound" meant or how to properly use it in a sentence.

i'll be watching you, Smurphy...and whenever your kindergarten-level grammar comes to the fore, i'll be there to call you on it...muahahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

Political Rule #1:

When your critics can only make fun of you for using burecratic grammar, you know you're doing a good job.

Anonymous said...

political rule #2:

when your supporters can't spell the word "bureAUcratic" (or come to think of it, even use it correctly...are you sure THAT was the word you were looking to use?!), it speaks volumes about the kinds of people over whose eyes you pulled the wool in order to get elected.

haha, i strike again!

GMR said...

First, there are many things we can criticize Murphy *for*. However, ending a sentence in a preposition isn't one of them. That rule was designed based on Latin grammar. But in Germanic languages (and at its base, English is Germanic), ending sentences with prepositions is perfectly acceptable. I speak German, and it's done all the time in German. One time someone criticized Winston Churchill for ending a sentence with a preposition. His reply: "That is criticism up with which I will not put."

Anonymous 4:55 has a point: it's not a market if the seller can't decide simply not to sell at a set price.

Anonymous said...

That's right gmr - it then becomes a price control. Then, because medicareis such a huge force, they will have to raise prices on everyone else to make up the difference. So, medicare will reduce costs but at everyone else's expense. Then, the Dems. will cry that we need a universal drug benefit because prices are so outrageous.

I don't agree with Bush on much, but this veto is spot on.

Anonymous said...

Prescription drugs make up 10% of the total bill nationally but it's the one that has been "out of pocket" for so many for so long so it gets discussed.

John said...

people! this was him talking live, on a conference call with 10 news agencies! i'd like to see your grammar in that situation. he was speaking on the fly, without prepared comments.