The polite negotiating and outright fighting among Congressional Democrats over Joe Biden’s particulars’ massive “Build Back Better” tax-and-print-and-spend plan leads to some interestingly strange bedfellows, as politics typically does.
The most progressive Democrats are rather upset that their demands for “Medicare for All” have led to more moderate Democrats objecting to raiding Medicare funding.
The crux of the fight is over drug pricing negotiation. The “negotiation” part of the pricing arrangement is a euphemistic reference to unilaterally imposed government price controls for essential medications.
Moderate Democrats recognize that government price controls on drugs will drive down innovation and take away from research funding for pharmaceutical advances. The progressive wing only sees a revenue source for other parts of the enormous spending spree that is being proposed.
Lawmakers are now discussing whether to narrow the schedule of drugs covered by the “price negotiation” plan and taking out language that would make negotiated prices also applicable to private health insurance plans.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been warning the House Progressive Caucus that the total spending proposed by Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation bill is likely to have to come down to secure enough votes to pass. Even so, they are looking at the $700 billion in budgetary savings from price-fixing for drugs as a way to justify other expenditures, including dental and vision benefits, expansion of the persons covered by Medicaid, and extending Obamacare subsidies.
The upshot is that progressives want to raid Medicare once again to pay for Obamacare benefits, in that the “on paper” savings on drugs of $700 billion will be directed to Medicaid expansion and insurance company subsidies.
Over the last decade, Obamacare has bled Medicare of at least $716 billion to fund expanded medical entitlements. Most House Democrats favored the current plan that would create a Medicare for All program, diverting benefits from mostly fixed-income seniors to non-disabled young people while liquidating existing trust funds in place for Medicare.