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President Trump speaks on lowering prescription drug prices



WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced new regulations Friday that could lower the cost of prescrition drugs for Americans.

“The drug companies don’t like me too much. But we had to do it,” President Donald Trump said in announcing the new policy at the White House. “I just hope they keep it. I hope they have the courage to keep it.”

Here’s how the regulations work.

  • tie what Medicare pays for medications administered in a doctor’s office to the lowest price paid among a group of other economically advanced countries. That’s called the “most favored nations” approach. It is adamantly opposed by critics aligned with the pharmaceutical industry, who liken it to socialism. The administration estimates it could save $28 billion over seven years for Medicare recipients through lower copays. It would take effect Jan. 1.
  • require drugmakers, for brand name pharmacy medications, to give Medicare enrollees rebates that now go to insurers and middlemen called pharmacy benefit managers. Insurers that deliver Medicare’s “Part D” prescription benefit say that would raise premiums. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates it would increase taxpayer costs by $177 billion over 10 years. The Trump administration disputes that and says its rule could potentially result in 30% savings for patients. It would take effect Jan. 1, 2022. The new regulations changes how hospitals and doctors are paid for administering the drugs, in an effort to try to remove incentives for using higher cost medications.

Relying on international prices to lower U.S. costs is an approach also favored by Democrats, including President-elect Joe Biden. But Democrats would go much further, authorizing Medicare to use lower prices from overseas to wrest industry concessions for all expensive medications, not just those administered in clinical settings.

Embodied in a House-passed bill from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., this strategy would achieve much larger savings, allowing Medicare to pay for new benefits such as vision and dental coverage. It also would allow private insurance plans for workers and their families get Medicare’s lower prices.

Trump has taken other action to lower prescription drug costs by opening a legal path for importing medicines from abroad. Also, Medicare drug plans that cap insulin costs at $35 a month are available during open enrollment, currently underway.

Prices for brand-name drugs have continued to rise during Trump’s tenure, but at a slower rate. The Food and Drug Administration has put a priority on approving generics, which cost less.

Earlier Friday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held the first press briefing since Election Day.

At the briefing McEnany addressed Trump meeting with Michigan GOP lawmakers Friday afternoon, amid his ongoing efforts to overturn election results. The cases are aimed at blocking or delaying the certification of election results in key battleground sates won by President-elect Joe Biden.

McEnany said Trump’s meeting with the state legislators was “not an advocacy meeting” and insisted “he routinely meets with lawmakers from across the country.”

McEnany said the government had the ability to distribute a coronavirus vaccine once one is approved. However, Biden has expressed doubts given that the Trump administration is not sharing information with his transition team. McEnany listed the administration’s timeline for getting an approved vaccine to the public, and held up a copy of the plan.

“This is publicly available, if the former vice president would like to read through it,” McEnany said.

McEnany has also acted as a Trump 2020 campaign adviser in recent weeks.

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