PRESCRIPTION DRUG HELL….Over at Eschaton, Lambert points to a USA Today article that demonstrates what a huge win the prescription drug bill is for the pharmaceutical industry. Naturally, pharmaceutical companies win because they get to sell more drugs, but they also win because the Republican plan ensures that the government won’t do anything so nasty as trying to negotiate lower prices:

Pharmaceutical-makers already have averted what they feared most: a single new bloc of 40 million consumers with the market power to dramatically drive down prescription prices ? and industry profits. Both the House and Senate versions of the bill bar the government from getting involved in price negotiations.

But both bills break the nation into 10 or more regions where private insurance companies would offer coverage for prescriptions. Rather than negotiating with the government, the pharmaceutical industry would deal with an array of insurers, each with thousands of clients, rather than millions. The extra costs would be paid by taxpayers and consumers.

“It’s manageable for them,” says Scott Kay, an industry analyst for Banc of America Securities. “It’s not government-run, and that’s a home run for them.”

I still support the plan, because I think it’s a lot easier to expand and fix it later than it would be to pass a better bill from scratch sometime in the unknown future. But it sure shows one of the (many) ways in which modern Republicans instantly roll over and abandon the principle of making government lean and mean whenever doing so might hurt one of their big corporate campaign contributors.

(And yes, the prescription drug plan might help George Bush’s reelection, but we probably could have had universal healthcare 30 years ago if we hadn’t been worried about Richard Nixon’s reelection. If it’s the right thing to do, we should support it regardless of whose plan it is.)

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