Medicare should be able to bargain with Big Pharma; it works for V.A.

Ezra Klein has a great post explaining why drugs purchased through the Veterans Administration are cheaper than those purchased by Medicare patients. He concludes with these eye-opening facts:

in 2003, The New England Journal of Medicine found the “socialized” VA better on all 11 metrics of care than fee-for-service Medicare …The National Committee for Quality Assurance, the gold-standard, found the VA the best health system in the country, beating out such star performers as John Hopkins and the Mayo Clinic. And an astounding 81% of Vets approve of their care, higher than Medicare, Medicaid, or the private sector.

A commenter on Klein’s post adds:

Better prices based on guarantee of patients is the current basis for every private health insurance company. If United Health, Blue Cross, stc can all demand and get price cuts (and kick-backs) from pharmacuetical companies based solely on numbers of guaranteed patients who will be forced to use their products, why can’t all of US? Big pharma really doesn’t have a choice here, play ball or pack up and sell in another country, they’ll play ball, Ecuadorians can’t afford Lipitor.

Amen.

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