The online version of the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Sen. Joe Biden (D., DE) will be Sen. Obama's running mate. Buckle-up, as "fundamental, meaningful and deep" U.S. health care reform just became a far-more likely scenario in 2009 or 2010 -- from Sen. Biden's 2007 presidential campaign site:
. . . .Joe Biden’s highest priorities -– along with ending the war in Iraq – are universal health care and education. He will work bring together key health care stakeholders from labor, business, health care and government to seize the historic opportunity created by the recognition from organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies, the Business Roundtable and the AMA to the labor movement that the time has come for universal, affordable health care. . . .
Negotiating For Prescription Drugs
The Medicare Part D prescription drug program was created in the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. Medicare covers more than 40 million seniors and disabled Americans who are projected to consume $1.8 trillion worth of prescription drugs over the next decade. However, instead of using the purchasing power of 40 million Americans to get the best prices possible for prescription drugs, the Medicare and Modernization Act of 2003 expressly forbids the federal government from interfering in drug negotiations between pharmaceutical companies and the numerous private insurers spread out across the country that offer Part D coverage. Simply put, this “non-interference clause” dilutes Medicare’s bargaining position. The federal government successfully uses its bulk purchasing power to keep costs low in the Veterans Administration health system — why not allow it to do the same for our nation’s seniors who rely on Medicare?
In order lower prescription drug prices in the Medicare Part D program, Joe Biden will work to remove the prohibition against the federal government negotiating prices for prescription drugs for enrollees in Medicare Part D to allow the federal government to use its bulk purchasing power to reduce costs for Medicare beneficiaries. . . .
We can afford to provide universal health care in this country – and we can help pay for it with a national agenda of sensible steps to get skyrocketing health care costs under control.
The U.S. spends over $2 trillion on medical care every year – approximately $6,697 perperson. Health care is 16 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Health insurance expenses are the fastest growing cost component for employers. Premiums have gone up 78 percent since 2001 –- almost four times the rate of wages. In 2007, the average annual premium increased by 6.1 percent. Unless something changes dramatically, health insurance costs will overtake profits for many businesses by 2012. Yet we have no national agenda to address the affordable health care crisis. . . .
To reduce ever-increasing health care costs Joe Biden will create a panel to compare the effectiveness of medical treatments and technologies. This could be housed in an existing federal agency like AHRQ, NIH or HRSA, or it can be an independent, public-private partnership receiving funding from both the federal government and private industry. Many other countries — including Australia,Canada, England, and Germany — already require clinical and economic assessments of medical services as a condition for reimbursement. . . .
Now, just to be sure we're clear -- even in the increasingly-unlikely event that Sen. McCain were to win the White House, he too is keenly interested in significant cost-reforms -- disease treatment capitation, and increased price competition for drugs -- from his website:
. . . .Lowering Drug Prices. John McCain will look to bring greater competition to our drug markets through safe re-importation of drugs and faster introduction of generic drugs.
Providing Quality, Cheaper Care For Chronic Disease. Chronic conditions account for three-quarters of the nation's annual health care bill. By emphasizing prevention, early intervention, healthy habits, new treatment models, new public health infrastructure and the use of information technology, we can reduce health care costs. We should dedicate more federal research to caring and curing chronic disease.
Promoting Coordinated Care. Coordinated care - with providers collaborating to produce the best health care - offers better outcomes at lower cost. We should pay a single bill for high-quality disease care which will make every single provider accountable and responsive to the patients' needs. . . .
Yes, Mr. Hassan -- perhaps you should start preparing for federal government effectiveness panels setting mandatory best practice, lowest cost disease treatment protocols (for reimbursement), expanded drug price caps, remimportation from Canada, expanded generic-fostering legislation in the U.S., and possibly requiring clearly favorable "outcomes" data -- for new FDA drug approvals.