Upshot extra: A little history

My post on The Upshot today is about the effect of political pressure on drug prices (as distinct from actual changes in law). The original lede, which includes a history lesson, was cut for length:

From which political campaign does this quote originate? “Medicare will become the world’s largest purchaser of drugs. And, the Medicare program will use its negotiating power to get discounts from the pharmaceutical companies.”

You’d be forgiven in thinking Bernie Sanders or Hilary Clinton spoke these exact words. Both candidates have called for Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. But the quote originated from neither campaign.

They’re from the Clinton administration’s 1993 report describing its plan for health reform. Of course, that health reform plan never passed. And debates about whether and how to reduce drug prices — and not just for Medicare — have continued through today, with little legislative success.

I wanted to remind readers of this history because I’ve seen some pieces recently that say the debate over Medicare drug price negotiation began in the 2000s, when Part D legislation was being considered. Nope.


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