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Bill Moyers: Dangerous Alliance of Health Industry and Right-Wingers Will Stop at Nothing to Derail Progressive Reforms

As Republicans fire away on health reform, big business is stepping up attacks too, lobbying and advertising guns blazing.

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The big drug companies are already so pleased with what they've been promised that they've brought back Harry and Louise -- the make-believe couple who starred in TV ads that helped torpedo the Clinton health care plan -- but this time they're in favor of reform.

According to The Associated Press, the drug industry's trade group PhRMA (the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) and the drug company Pfizer "reported spending more money than other health care organizations on lobbying in the second quarter of this year" - $6.2 million from PhRMA, $5.6 million from Pfizer.

"Including its latest report, PhRMA has now spent $13.1 million lobbying so far this year. Pfizer has reported $11.7 million in lobbying expenses for 2009."

This is part of the reason, as Alicia Mundy and Laura Meckler recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, that "the pharmaceuticals industry, which President Barack Obama promised to 'take on' during his campaign, is winning most of what it wants in the health-care overhaul."

Their story describes "a string of victories" plucked from the Senate Finance Committee by drug company lobbyists, including no cost-cutting steps, no cheaper drugs to be allowed across the border from Canada, and no direct Federal government negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies to lower Medicare drug prices.

And that's not all. The Senate Health Committee is giving the biotech industry monopoly protection against competition from generic drugs for 12 years after they go on the market.

No wonder the cost of reform keeps going up and up and up. Could it be that Harry and Louise are happier because, this time, they're in on the deal?

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers. Research provided by editorial producer Rebecca Wharton.

 
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