One obvious way to save tax dollars is to use Federal and state government to buy products in bulk.
I did that, for instance, is the purchase of natural gas for all state facilities in the late 1980’s, saving $1 million as year.
(And I designed the bid specs so that Governor Jim Thompson’s favorite supplier did not win.)
When Obamacare was passed without a Republican vote, I was astounded that the bulk purchase of pharmaceuticals was not included in the bill.
That led me to conclude the not only Republicans, but also Democrats had fallen victim to campaign contributions from drug companies.
It goes back to 2003, as Bloomberg columnist Joe Nocera said in the Chicago Tribune:
In 2003, when Congress passed the massive Part D Medicare prescription-drug benefit, Big Pharma was able to get a provision in the bill banning the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from negotiating directly with drug companies to set prices, as advanced countries tend to do.
At first the Dems talked a good game, but when the final bill was read after it was passed, people found bulk purchasing missing in action.
Instead, insurance companies would negotiate with drug producers.
Still no push back allowed from the Federal government.
During the campaign,
Nocera also reports of the early 2017 meeting with drug company CEOs, right after Trump was sworn in.
“When they opened again, Trump had not only abandoned his promise to use the government’s bargaining power to bring down drug prices, he was now totally against it!”
Think Progress reports the campaign promises:
“If we have to bid out pharmaceuticals, we’re bidding them out. We’re going to save billions and billions and billions of dollars,” then-candidate Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in February 2016. The same month, he told MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough that, “If we negotiated the price of drugs, Joe, we’d save $300 billion a year.” At a March 2016 debate in Michigan, Trump said “I’m not only talking about drugs, I’m talking about other things. We’ll save more than $300 billion a year if we properly negotiate. We don’t do that, we don’t negotiate. We don’t negotiate anything.”
Instead of a rational business approach to purchasing, Trump has decided to use competition and and transparency.
Drugmakers will be required to advertise the cost of their medicines in TV ads and druggists will be allowed to tell customers about cheaper drugs.
Approval of over-the-counter medications will also speeded up.
But no big announcement about the bulk buying proposal made in the campaign.
Sounds like a broken promise to me.