David Sirota: Pharmaceuticals will try to make Medicare proposal as limited as possible

David Sirota, founder of the Daily Poster, editor-at-large at Jacobin Magazine and former senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) campaign, said Thursday that the Biden administration's plan to allow Medicare to directly negotiate drug prices is not unprecedented.

"And let's be clear, the Veterans Administration is allowed to use its purchasing power to negotiate prices. Other countries' healthcare systems have this power, so this is not some radical idea," Sirota said during an interview with HillTV. "If you're a big purchaser of prescription drugs, you should be able to use that purchasing power to negotiate lower prices for those medicines." 

Sirota stressed how powerful the pharmaceutical company is, calling it one of the most powerful industries in Washington and in the world. He cited his experience 20 years ago working on healthcare issues in Sanders's Senate office to make the point that the Biden administration should not rest on their laurels in regards to getting their Medicare proposal passed.

"I can tell you that every time you think you have the pharmaceutical industry cornered, they manage to get out of it," Sirota said. "The devil is always in the details."

Sirota further warned that even if the proposal passes, pharmaceutical companies will go after the granular details of the bill to reduce what it actually allows Medicare to do. 

“You can expect a furious and frantic lobbying campaign from the pharmaceutical industry to try to change any little word, any little semicolon, any little piece of that bill to make it as limited, if not gutted, as possible," Sirota said.