Rep. Burgess: White House Made Backroom Deal With Big Pharma

Friday, 18 May 2012 01:27 PM

By Henry J. Reske and Kathleen Walter

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The White House apparently concocted a secret deal with the pharmaceutical industry in return for a promise not to oppose President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law, Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas, tells Newsmax.TV.

Burgess was referring to allegations raised in a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation that the administration made backroom deals to secure passage of Obamacare.

Watch the exclusive video interview here.



A staff memo from the committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations said “the investigation has confirmed the existence of a deal between the White House and (the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America) that explicitly bound both parties to certain commitments.”

The memo noted that media reports dating back to 2009 speculated on the “existence and details of such deals leading up to the law’s enactment” but the reports did not have “concrete evidence” of what the White House deals were comprised of.

“This investigation will show that the agreement between the White House and the pharmaceutical industry was much more explicit,” the memo concluded. “In the coming weeks the Committee intends to show what the White House agreed to do as part of its deal with the pharmaceutical industry and how the full details of this agreement were kept from both the public and the House of Representatives.”

When asked if the White House had made a secret deal, Burgess, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said, “It appears that they did.”

“Actually, this has been known for some time, even going back into the fall of 2009 when Sen. John McCain tried to offer an amendment in the Senate Finance Committee about re-importation and was told you can’t do that, that’s not part of our deal,” he said. “That certainly piqued my interest when that occurred and I have been trying for literally since late 2009 to get access to the information where these secret negotiations went on in the White House.

“It has taken a long time to get that information but just recently we got more and more access to e-mails from the industries that were involved, not from the White House, but as a consequence of getting those e-mails, we now see that the White House involvement was very significant and was at the very highest levels.”

Burgess said there are no e-mails directly to President Obama but e-mails are linked to Jim Messina, then Deputy Chief of Staff and now Obama’s campaign manager. Regardless, Americans should be concerned.

“The reason they should be concerned is because of at least the appearance of selling some policy positions for [not opposing] the bill,” he said. “We all remember the Harry Louise commercials from the Clinton attempt to reform healthcare, and this is what the White House feared.

They feared the big money being able to fund a public relations campaign that would destroy their attempts at healthcare reform.

“They needed to get people on their side. In order to get them on their side, apparently there were some okay, we will promise that there won’t be re-importation language in the healthcare law that is passed. Well, okay, as far as it goes that PhRMA has every ability to be down there and advocate on its own behalf but should they get the ability to write the law in exchange for their not opposing the law? That’s where it becomes murky.

"Again, if this is all above board and it’s all open and transparent, then that’s one thing, but it wasn’t. It was promised that it would be but it wasn’t. This is what lends the secrecy. What are they trying to hide? Do the American people have a right to know? I think they do. This is what makes all of this so troublesome.”

Burgess acknowledged the upcoming Supreme Court decision could have an effect on the congressional investigation into possible deal making. However, he added no one, other than member of the court, know what will happen.

“All we can do is deal with current law, which is the Affordable Care Act, and deal with the situation on the ground as we have it,” he said. “I’ve been concerned that the law was flawed from the get go. Part of the reason it was flawed was because of the process followed to develop the law and that extends far beyond this investigation.

“As you well know, the passage of this thing on the Senate floor Christmas Eve, the loss of that 60th vote in the Senate and then the failure to go to a conference committee to at least try to come to an agreement between the House and Senate, and then just pushing the Senate passed bill which was a little better than a rough draft of healthcare reform but the darn thing got signed into law because the process was so flawed. Right the way along, you can’t point to excellence in legislating at any point in the law, and yet we have it signed. It set a law and it affects 1/6 of the American economy.”

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