Op-ed: Will pharma really pay for Trump’s latest lawless promise to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries? Not likely
Sitting atop the executive branch, President Donald Trump is the ultimate authority at the FDA. He can fast track any vaccine to approval himself. If it came to that, of course.
What he can’t do is unilaterally order the legislative branch to loosen the Treasury’s coffers for $6.6 billion. Nor can he command pharmaceutical companies to pay for $200 vouchers sent to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries for prescription drugs before the election.
It didn’t stop Trump from promising these very things last night at a North Carolina campaign rally. Trump was the center of an animated signing ceremony of yet another executive order — the latest in a string of oversold presidential proclamations on drug pricing.
Executive orders do not carry the weight of the law. Despite that, Trump signed four executive orders in July that were billed as addressing high drug prices. Some of the ideas in the executive orders are indeed provocative reforms that were once politically untenable and have been cheered by patient groups.
Yet the most ambitious order, the so-called most favored nations pricing proposal, has yet to be implemented.
That has not stopped Mark Meadows, the president’s chief of staff, from claiming on CNN that’s where the money for the $200 senior cash card is coming from. Two other administration officials were sent out to speak with reporters and repeated this falsehood.
Endpoints News asked PhRMA to ask if the 34 pharmaceutical chiefs on their board are down with the President’s latest ask. A spokesperson told us they have no additional information on the cash cards. “As we’ve previously said, one-time savings cards will neither provide lasting help, nor advance the fundamental reforms necessary to help seniors better afford their medicines.”
It was revealed earlier this week that PhRMA was close to a deal with Trump on drug pricing, only to have it fall apart at the final hours because Meadows insisted on a $100 cash card paid for by pharmaceutical companies and sent to American seniors before the election.
The pharmaceutical CEOs said no to the shakedown.
It’s not clear why the President and his chief of staff have now doubled the figure to $200 and continue to claim the pharmaceutical industry will pay for it.