(Excerpts from the New York Times Nov 13, 2006)
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12 — The Bush administration said on Sunday that it would strenuously oppose one of the Democrats’ top priorities for the new Congress: legislation authorizing the government to negotiate with drug companies to secure lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.
In an interview, Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said he saw no prospect of compromise on the issue.
“The government negotiates big discounts for the prices of drugs for our veterans,” said Senator-elect Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. “But the drug companies got Congress to make it illegal to negotiate for lower prices under Medicare.”
Secretary Leavitt said he did not want the power to negotiate drug prices. “I don’t believe I can do a better job than an efficient market,” he said.
In December 2005, just before leaving office, Mr. Leavitt’s predecessor, Tommy G. Thompson, said he wished Congress had given him the authority to negotiate prices for Medicare beneficiaries, as he negotiated discounts on antibiotics during the anthrax scare of 2001.
Note to Congressman Paul Ryan:
If you really want to help our economy and reduce costs for seniors on Medicare, immediately propose and help pass legislation that allows the government to negotiate for lower drug prices, just as they negotiate for virtually everything else.