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Prescription bottles with money inside
How do you fix Medicare? By ending this kind of shit.
WASHINGTON — Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.

The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients.

The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period. [emphasis added]

As if the fact that Amgen has pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government and still has this much influence in Washington wasn't bad enough, the New York Times article points out that Amgen has already secured a two year delay before government controls kick in, meaning it now has a cushy four years to bilk Medicare and the American taxpayer. They got this through their "deep financial and political ties" to influential senators including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and members of the Finance Committee, Democrat Max Baucus, the chair, and Orrin Hatch. As if the fact that Amgen has pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government and still has this much influence in Washington wasn't bad enough.

So here's your daily reminder: These people don't care about the deficit. The shared sacrifice they talk about means old people pay by having to wait longer to get Medicare so that big drug companies keep their profits.

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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 11:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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