No, Andy Kim is not coming for your Medicare | Editorial

Published: Sep. 13, 2021

A dark money group is running a scaremongering ad campaign against N.J. Congressman Andy Kim, suggesting that he wants to cut Medicare to pay for the $3.5 trillion Democratic spending plan.

Sign a petition to oppose this, it blares – “Lives depend on you today.”

Be aware: This is a scam. The claim is pure nonsense. The $3.5 trillion plan doesn’t cut Medicare, it enhances it by adding coverage for dental, hearing and vision. And it covers the cost of this by negotiating lower prices for prescriptions.

Lower drug prices also means lower insurance premiums and copays for patients who desperately need them. So, the idea that someone like Rep. Kim (D-3rd) is going to cut Medicare and endanger your granny is, on its face, absurd.

Our guess is that this disinformation campaign was financed by Big Pharma. Dark money groups don’t publicly disclose their donors, but this one, called A Healthy Future, ran similar ads against former President Donald Trump heading into Election Day last November; targeting Trump’s executive order aimed at lowering prescription drug prices.

Clearly, this is a group that opposes cost saving measures for consumers on prescription drugs, no matter who the idea is coming from, with the means to mount a ferocious lobbying campaign. Gee, wonder who that could be?

“This is all Pharma fearmongering,” David Mitchell, a cancer patient who founded Patients for Affordable Drugs, told us last week. “And I find this particularly offensive because I have an incurable cancer, and prescription drugs are keeping me alive.”

The reform that Kim is supporting, chiefly sponsored by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6th), will help people like Mitchell. It will lower the high prices of prescription drugs, which is the biggest barrier to accessing these drugs right now: Just one of Mitchell’s chemo drugs costs him more than $15,000 a year out of pocket.

Medicare will cover anything that’s medically necessary if a doctor prescribes it, so the ad’s claim that “the government wants to decide who gets what medicine” is total bunk. But because the government has no power to negotiate, it must pay whatever drug price the industry charges, a cost that gets passed down to consumers.

And because we overpay, Medicare also can’t afford to provide other crucial benefits, like dental care.

Now, faced with growing demands for reform, Big Pharma is effectively threatening that it will no longer make cutting-edge new drugs if we allow the government to negotiate better deals. “The government wants to forgo hundreds of future cures,” this ad warns.

More fiction: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office found that any potential impact on new drugs entering the market would be small. It’s certainly not forgoing hundreds of new cures. Drugmakers spend more on marketing and sales than they do on research and development.

But that hasn’t stopped shadow groups from trying to scare older people into opposing a measure that would make drugs cheaper and more accessible for them.

“They will do anything, say anything, to maintain their power to dictate the prices of brand name drugs,” says Mitchell, who’s tracked 20 million in advertising since July by Big Pharma and its allied groups to try and stop this.

These groups know they don’t have much credibility, so they try to get regular people to sign petitions to members of Congress to make it appear like there’s some big grassroots agreement here; that they’re on the side of seniors, and will protect your granny from menacing interlopers like Andy Kim. Don’t be fooled.

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published this page in News and Politics 2021-09-14 03:26:09 -0700