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Ah, only in America. The Democratic presidential candidates are unveiling their health care plans that attempt to cover millions of Americans with slightly lower premiums and affordable prescription co-pays but it's Wal-Mart that announces it will sell birth control and fertility drugs for $9 a pop. Why is it that in this country, only a giant corporation, able to pressure its suppliers to lower prices, can make health care more affordable to Americans, while our political system isn't strong enough to bring about systematic health care change?
Last year, Wal-Mart began selling prescription drugs for $4. This year, they've announced an expansion of that program to cover medication for, among other things, glaucoma, attention deficit disorder, and, yes, contraception. Newsday had this to say:
"The company said it has also added $9 birth control prescriptions, which it said will save women as much as $250 a year. Wal-Mart said that the national average for birth control and fertility drugs ranged from $24 to $30 a month."
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Now women can access birth control for low, low prices. Although I doubt the Wal-Mart branded yellow, smiley -face will advertise Ortho-Tri-Cyclin in their commercials…
Clearly, Wal-Mart is making up for its image issues when it was pummeled by activists and the media for skimping on health care coverage for its employees, costing tax payers millions of dollars to cover those employees. Bill Simon, an executive Vice President for the store, says this about the "impact" of the program thus far:
"…we have removed over $610 million from the cost of health care in the U.S. That's the simple math."
Another spokesperson for Wal-Mart makes the store sound like it's in cahoots with a fairy godmother:
"This is all just due to the buying power of Wal-Mart," Casarona said. "We just talk to the (drug) manufacturers and tell them we want to save customers money, that they need to work with us. We're not making a lot of money (from the program) but it is profitable."
"We just talk to the drug manufacturers and tell them we want to save customers money…" Hmm. "Talk", huh? It's hard to argue that cheaper access to birth control and fertility drugs is a bad thing. But when it comes from Wal-Mart are we making a deal with the devil?