Yesterday, I wrote about the striking contradiction between Barack Obama’s public statements about the need to negotiate Medicare drug prices, and the New York Times report that Obama had agreed to forego such negotiations in order to win drug industry support for health care reform. I called the contradiction a flip flop.
Sam Stein, over at the Huffington Post, did some fine work yesterday trying to get to the bottom of how this all happened, finding that the White House surrender on the drug price issue appears to have involved a lot of winks and nods and confusing misdirection. In short, the deal over drug prices may have been cut with the Senate Finance Committee, with some sort of apparent blessing by the White House, not by the White House itself. (The original Times report used lots of careful language hinting at the same thing, saying the White House “stood by a behind-the-scenes deal.”) Either way, it remains likely at this point that drug negotiation will not be in health care reform, and you are unlikely to hear the White House complaining about it’s absence.