Policy, Pricing

White House: Trump remains committed to Medicare drug price negotiations

President Trump is sticking to his guns on getting Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

During a recent sit-down with Big Pharma execs, the president made a reference to price fixing by Medicare that caused some observers to say that he was backing off a commitment to take the cuffs off the big federal health program for seniors and get them to leverage lower prices on therapeutics — which he feels have become outrageously high.

In today’s White House press briefing, though, Sean Spicer left no room for any doubts on where Trump stands on Medicare price negotiations.

“He’s for it, yes,” Spicer said in response to a query. “Absolutely….The easier way to look at this is what other countries have done; negotiating costs to keep those down. As drug prices continue to escalate that drives up healthcare costs for every American. But particularly there’s a huge burden on American seniors who are so much more reliant on drug prices…Rising healthcare costs and prescription drugs continues to be a burden on their ability to live out their lives in a much more enjoyable manner.  His commitment is to make sure that he does what he can, I think rather successfully, uses his skills as a businessman to drive them down.”

The pharma industry lobbied hard to persuade Congress to make it against the law for Medicare to negotiate drug prices, fearing that the huge program would be able to extract deep discounts that would be adopted by the rest of the payers in the US. Medicare benefit managers, though, do negotiate prices. But like the rest of the players in this field, those final discount prices remain hidden as drug manufacturers negotiate their way onto the formularies beneficiaries use to cover the cost of drugs.

Trump’s repeated blasts against drug companies and drug prices has unnerved many of the leaders in the industry.


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