The health insurance lobby is laying the groundwork to block federal health care reform by working through think tanks to pass state laws invalidating federally-mandated reforms.
Despite proclaiming a need to cut medical costs, the Senate health care reform bill contains a provision that will benefit large drug companies while hurting manufacturers of generic drugs. As it is now written, the bill will keep less-expensive generic drugs from entering the market for fully 12 years, far longer than the five to seven years President Barack Obama had advocated. The concession to Big Pharma companies, which manufacture expensive brand-name drugs, follows an $80 billion agreement made earlier this year between the White House and large drug makers like Merck and Pfizer, who promised to support President Obama's health reform plan, cut drug prices and pay additional taxes to help expand health insurance coverage over the next 10 years. Kathleen Jaeger, President and CEO of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, said the health reform bill passed by the Senate " ... unfortunately, amounts to a treasure trove to brand drug companies who stand to make enormous profits from health care reform -- putting brand drug profits over patients ... With generics saving the health care system one billion dollars every three days, Congress should be looking at increasing, not decreasing, access to safe effective and affordable generic and biogeneric medicines."
In a final end-game bid, the governments of Saudi Arabia and Australia are frantically trying to shoe-horn support for the experimental Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology into a final agreement from the COP15 conference in Copenhagen. By the end of the first week of negotiations, promoters of the technology failed to win support from one of the major committees of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
But just two days later, draft text prepared by the chair of one of the two 'tracks' of UNFCCC negotiations threw a lifeline to the coal and power generation industries by flagging that whether or not to include CCS in the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) as one of the most important issues requiring resolution. Including CCS projects in the CDM would provide a massive financial incentive for the development of trial CCS projects, most of which would be attached to massive new coal-fired power stations in developing countries. And this is just what groups such as the World Coal Institute and the International Emissions Trading Association have been lobbying for.