Taxpayer relief from the Amgen Hospitality Suite

 

To the Editor,
Section 632 of the American Taxpayer Relief Act (“Fiscal Cliff”) requires Medicare to keep buying unprescribed, unused dialysis drugs through 2016. Getting full MSRP (Affordable Care Act provision) for the drugs isn’t quite enough.
Each dialysis treatment “bundle” includes payment for “certain oral . . . drugs [without] injectable equivalents”, whose dosage has decreased by 25% since the bundle was “negotiated” in 2007. The drugs only makers are Amgen, Genzme, and Fresenius (Wyofile Jan 29, 2910).
Amgen’s piece of this delicious $400-$500 Million yearly taxpayer fraud continues at over $250 Million yearly. (Washington Post, Aug 09, 2012).
Section 632 came from Senator Max Baucus’s Senate Committee on Finance. Amgen employes 74 lobbyists, including Baucus’s and Ranking Member Mitch McConnell’s former chiefs of staff. A former Amgen “Health Policy Analyst” is aide to Senator Orrin Hatch. 
Joining Baucus ($68,000 from Amgen ) and Hatch ($59,000) were McConnell ($73,000), and Senators Enzi ($44,500) and Barrasso ($30,000 since 2007). (opensecrets.org)
The Senate Finance Committee’s web site applauds Section 632 as “ . . . the result of year-long discussions between the government and the nephrology community”. 
No kidding. We get who “the government” is. But “the nephrology community”??
Yep: the lobbyists from drug makers, distributers and dialysis clinics. Oh: add an altruistic, angelic advocacy chorus: “Kidney Care Partners”, “American Nephrology Nurses ”, “Dialysis Patient Citizens“, “National Kidney Foundation”, etc., all singing the same tune . . . and all funded by the drug makers, their distributers, and the dialysis clinics. Spontaneous consensus at its best.
Baucus problem? Enzi problem? Nope: Campaign-finance and lobbying law problem.
 
Charlie Donnes
Luther