It's that old you-never-miss-it-till-it's-gone story: Now that the Democrats have lost Sen. Ted Kennedy's Senate seat to the Republicans, they must feel as if they squandered those good old days of a 60-40 majority. Now, healthcare reform advocates face several not-so-wonderful options for getting a bill passed.
Pushing the Senate version of the bill through the House unchanged, for instance; House Reps aren't crazy about that idea. Treating healthcare reform as a budget bill that would need only 51 votes in the Senate; some Senate Dems say they wouldn't go along. Throwing up their hands and walking away? A few Democrats already say they're giving up, making those good old supermajority days seem even better. Because if Democrats don't have anything to show for their first year with those numbers, then the midterm elections could be really ugly.
With healthcare reform up in the air, so is pharma's $80 billion--or is it $90 billion now?--cost-cutting with the White House. But so is the expansion of health insurance that was predicted to deliver growth to Big Pharma's revenues. What will the industry and its lobbyists do now? We'll have to wait and see.