The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was an early White House health care ally, and, despite a recent controversy, has teamed with some unlikely interest groups to spend millions advertising in support of reform. But according to a report in Politico, they also have produced an ad--in the can, ready to go-- attacking one of the key Democratic proposals emerging on Capitol Hill.
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PhRMA senior Vice President Ken Johnson denies the report unequivocally, saying the notion that there's any such ad is "absolutely false."
"We have two plans for health care reform," he told TPM, "'a' and '1a' and they both stress the importance of passing health care reform this year."
Whether or not such an ad exists, the controversy over it goes to the heart of the highly tactical game the major health care industry stake holders have played as nominal supporters of the White House's push for reform. Early in 2009, pharmaceutical manufacturers, insurers and other trade groups aligned themselves with the White House figuring reform was unstoppable and that their best play was to influence its scope from the inside--that they needed the White House more than the White House needed them. But that balance is changing. And the groups now show a greater willingness to jump ship if it becomes clear the final deal is not sufficiently in their interests or, more tellingly, if the political climate suggests there's more to be gained by going into outright opposition.