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House GOP Releases Documents From Health Care Probe

“Perfect timing to cut our deal w the White House as this is swirling,” Hall wrote to colleagues.

A letter was being organized to push back on the press reports, which reiterated support from major industry groups to pass a health care reform bill.

In a May 15 email, Hall said PhRMA needed to sign the letter, or else then-White House spokesman Robert Gibbs “is going to call PhRMA out specifically by name as an outlier at the press conference if we do not. Rahm is already furious. The ire will be turned on us.”

The group signed the letter.

On June 10, PhRMA officials met with then-White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, DeParle and staffers from the Senate Finance Committee to negotiate the deal.

DeParle proposed policies that would cut revenues for the pharmaceutical industry by $100 billion over 10 years, according to PhRMA documents. Those proposals were eventually dropped, however.

During the next week, Obama suffered what the PhRMA lobbyists described as a politically difficult week. A staff memo issued by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee points specifically to two news stories, in the Washington Post and New York Times, that raised concerns about delays in the push for the bill and about its costs.

On June 18, Ken Johnson, PhRMA’s senior VP for public relations, said in an email to Hall and former Rep. Bill Tauzin that the White House had already leaked that a deal would be announced to the Washington Post.

“It’s pretty clear that the Administration has had a horrible week on health care reform, and we are now getting jammed to make this announcement so the story takes a positive turn before the Sunday talk shows beat up on Congress and the White House,” he said.

“Yes, that’s why they are doing it, but it’s also why we got a good deal,” Hall replied.

On July 7, PhRMA CEOs and leadership met with Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Emanuel, DeParle and others to hammer out final details and shake hands on the deal.

Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, led by ranking member Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), said the GOP’s staff memo outlining the documents was “one-sided, misleading, and full of significant errors.” Changes to the law resulted in revenue cuts of $100 billion to $125 billion, not the $80 billion agreed to by the White House, Waxman said in the statement.

Waxman also defended the White House’s actions.

“President Obama’s efforts to enlist the support of private industry are exactly what presidents have always done to enact major legislation. His efforts are what Americans expect of their leaders. They are no different than those of President Lyndon B. Johnson in enacting Medicare in 1965 or President George W. Bush in expanding Medicare to add a prescription drug benefit in 2003,” Waxman and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) wrote in a statement.

Waxman recently told Roll Call there was nothing wrong with the White House negotiating a deal with PhRMA but that he thought the terms of the deal were tilted toward the industry.

“I thought that the pharmaceutical industry got a very good deal, and I thought the administration could’ve gotten more from them,” Waxman said.

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