We on the the 13th Floor have long admired Mike Leavitt.
As governor of Utah and the fedeal Secretary of Health and Human Services, he has demonstrated real foresight and proven to be a committed and meticulous administrator.
Yet just now there is a whiff of hypsocrisy about him. Leavitt yesterday rejected plans touted by congressional Democarats to change the Medicare prescription drug program to allow the government to negotiate discounts on prices.
He said it would be the first step toward a government-run health system.
"The idea of the government negotiating drug prices really isn't about the government negotiating drug prices. It's a surrogate for a much larger issue, which is really government-run health care."
What makes this hypocritical? Leavitt had spent much of the past year arguing that the government should use its purchasing power to force changes in the health care system.
He has lobbied governors and Fortune 500 company CEOs to negotiate contracts that would require better quality control and ultimately better prcies.
President Bush issued an executive order in August to encourage federal agencies to do the same. link to AG's story from a couple months ago
At the National Governors Association meeting this summer, Leavitt told governors that government should use its power as a purchaser to force changes in the health care system.
We'll be curious to know more about why he feels so differently when it comes to prescription drugs.