President Trump took to the Rose Garden recently to announce with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar that he would be taking on foreign countries and pharmaceutical companies to increase market fairness and lower prescription drug prices. His “American Patients First” plan aims to increase competition and cut red tape that has been preventing private insurers from negotiating lower prices with drug makers.
In particular, Trump wants to ban a “gag rule” in Medicare’s prescription drug program that prevents price transparency for consumers. This will be a great help to the 35 million seniors on Medicare Part D. “This is a total rip-off, and we’re ending it,” Trump said.
Also, true to form, the President wants to negotiate a better deal for the American people by bringing countries with government-run healthcare to the table for trade talks. Canada and Europe, for example, as noted by the Washington Examiner, have been using anti-free market price controls to artificially lower their prices and essentially free-ride off of America’s drug innovation. Azar told Fox News, “Americans should be able to reap the rewards of living in the country that has brought the world more new drugs than any other.”
Democrats wasted no time attacking Trump, with Nancy Pelosi characterizing Trump’s plan as an attack on seniors. Meanwhile, Democrats have not put forward any significant serious plan to tackle the issue. President Obama had promised that Obamacare, his universal health care law, would address the problem, however it has done nothing but subsidize high prices.
For the first time, it seems a President is actually willing to go into the weeds of the pharmaceutical industry and tackle the problem boldly with private sector solutions and trade negotiations. Along with this plan, Trump has stated he would be signing a Right to Try bill if it ever came to his desk. After years of lobbying by free market think tanks, we may see it happen before summer. The House will reportedly be voting on the Senate’s bill soon and it is expected to pass.
While more complex than promising a free lunch, the rewards for the American people will surely be great. Throwing off the the burden of bureaucratic red tape that prevents so many from receiving the best health care on Earth at a low price will surely be one of the greatest accomplishments and best-kept promises from the Trump administration.