White House Made Deal With Big Pharma on Health Bill
Whether that's good or bad is open for debate
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2012 10:18 AM CDT
A file photo of White House aide Nancy-Ann DeParle.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

(Newser) – The White House cut a deal with the pharmaceutical industry to get health-care reform passed, a revelation getting renewed attention thanks to emails released by House Republicans, reports the New York Times. In one from 2009, Obama adviser Nancy-Ann DeParle tells a top industry lobbyist that the administration has agreed to block the importation of inexpensive drugs into the US, "based on how constructive you guys have been." In exchange, the big drug companies agreed to support the president's overall reform. Republicans call it a back-room deal that proves President Obama is a hyprocrite, Democrats say Republicans are the hypocrites given their ties to the industry, and the White House says it had to work with all players to get something passed.

  • Kevin Drum, Mother Jones: "The spin the Times puts on this is that it's unusual because Obama had denounced Big Pharma so strongly during the 2008 campaign, but this strikes me as painfully naive." Given GOP intransigence, the president had to strike a deal like this, and he used "hardball tactics that most liberals think Obama should use more often."
  • John Hudson, Atlantic Wire: "Depending on where you stand, it was either a fool's bargain, cutting off an affordable method of drugs for millions of Americans, or a necessary evil, allowing for the passage of an over-all positive piece of legislation."
  • TJ Green, the Weedblog: "I wonder how many back-room deals he’s made with respect to cannabis?"