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A memo obtained by the Huffington Post confirms that the White House and the pharmaceutical lobby secretly agreed to precisely the sort of wide-ranging deal that both parties have been denying over the past week.
PhRMA's Johnson cast doubts on the provenance of the outline. "The memo, as described, is simply not accurate," he said in a statement. "Anyone could have written it. Unless it comes from our board of directors, it's not worth the paper it's written on. Clearly, someone is trying to short circuit our efforts to try and make health care reform a reality this year. That's not going to happen. Too much is at stake for both patients and the U.S. economy. Our new ads supporting health care reform are starting this week, and we are redoubling our efforts to drive awareness of why this issue is so important to America's future."
Johnson added that "no outside lobbyists -- not a single one -- were ever involved in our discussions with the Senate Finance Committee or the White House so someone is blowing smoke."
But the lobbyist who was given the outline defended its authenticity. And although the White House now says that drug price negotiations and reimportation were not actually discussed in the talks with PhRMA, the lobbyist said: "Well, that's bull -- that's baloney. That was part of the deal, for them not to push that."
The new uncertainty surrounding the deal comes after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has repeatedly said that her chamber is not bound by any agreement it is not a party to. On July 8th, the day after the Journal reported some elements of the deal, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said in a public speech that his committee would not be tied down by the agreement.