Bartlett: Medicare Doesn’t Need To Negotiate Lower Prices Because Drugs Are Already Cheap Enough

Today on Fox News Sunday, White House counselor Dan Bartlett said the federal government does not need to negotiate lower prices for seniors. Bartlett said that prices have “come down” and drugs are already cheap enough. He concluded, “the proof is in the pudding.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2006/11/bartprice.320.240.flv]

Here are the facts about the Medicare prescription drug plan:

— Taxpayers “could save as much as $190 billion over the next 10 years” if Medicare negotiated prices with drug makers.

— Medicare pays substantially more for drugs that the Veterans Administration, which negotiates prices with drug makers.

— Since the program does not require any discount over list prices, “drug makers are being paid as much as 20 percent more for the same drugs that they had already been providing to recipients under the Medicaid program [for the indigent].”

The New York Times reports, “For big drug companies, the new Medicare prescription benefit is proving to be a financial windfall larger than even the most optimistic Wall Street analysts had predicted.” If Congress passes a bill allowing Medicare to negotiate lower prices, the drug industry is counting on President Bush to veto it.


WALLACE: Is he willing to allow Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices?

BARTLETT: Well, we had this debate during the prescription drug debate when the medicare reforms went in place two years ago. The interesting thing about it, we now have some experience. All the estimates saying that prices wouldn’t come down were proven wrong. And when Democrats made their point about having a price control system where the government dictated prices, they turned down the estimates they were making were far higher in costs for the American seniors than what is actually happening today out in America.

WALLACE: You’re saying you don’t need to have Medicare negotiate lower prices. it’s already happened.

BARTLETT: The marketplace is working. We’re more than happy to have that debate with Republicans, Democrats, whoever wants to talk about it. The proof is in the pudding. It’s been working. It’s been benefitting America’s seniors.