03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Nelson Will Offer Amendment Breaking PhRMA Deal

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) plans to introduce an amendment to the Senate health care bill that would break a $80 billion cost-cutting deal the pharmaceutical industry worked out with the White House.

The move was first reported by the National Journal (subscription required).

Nelson first introduced an amendment that would go against the deal during the Senate finance committee negotiations. He opposes proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, an expensive and not very useful program that nonetheless is beloved by seniors in his state.

"It's the right thing to do," Nelson said at the time. "Don't cut our senior citizens [off from] something that they already have."

The proposed cuts don't end the program; they reduce the reimbursement rate to make it closer to standard Medicare.

On the finance committee, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) defended the secret deal with PhRMA in explaining his opposition Nelson's amendment:

I was not involved in negotiations with PhRMA but I believe that the administration was, obviously PhRMA was, and I presume this committee was involved in some way in those negotiations.

And what PhRMA agreed to do through those negotiations is to pay about
80 billion dollars over 10 years to help fill up half the donut hole. That's my understanding. And they are prepared to go forward and to honor that commitment. As I understand it, the commitment from our colleague Senator Nelson would basically double what was negotiated with PhRMA.

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