Trump Said Drug Companies 'Get Away With Murder' - But He Won't Fulfill His Promise to Control Prices

News & Politics

One of the ways President Donald Trump stood out from the crowd during the 2016 GOP presidential primary race was by going after big business and selectively adopting Democratic talking points. In particular, he was highly critical of pharmaceutical companies' extortionate prices, and he promised to use Medicare's bargaining power to bring them down.

In office, Trump has behaved much more like a standard Republican compared to how he campaigned. On drug prices, he's prepared to roll over for big business once again.

As the New York Times reported Thursday night, the Trump administration is preparing to announce new plans to address rising drug costs — but allowing Medicare to negotiate prices will not be a part of the agenda. One official dismissed the idea in a phone call with journalists as an idea that "Democrats have called for."

Democrats have largely been the ones calling for the idea, but Trump joined then in January 2016. In an absurd exaggeration, Trump said the plan could save $300 billion a year — and while it would not save that much, many experts still think it would be worth doing.  

Discussing the idea on the campaign trail, Trump said: “We don’t do it. Why? Because of the drug companies.”

As the Times notes, Trump has also repeatedly said the drug companies are "getting away with murder."

Medicare Part D, which provide prescription drug coverage for seniors, was enacted under President George W. Bush. But while the conservative administration found it worthwhile to expand a major government benefit, it recoiled from the idea that the government would use the massive bargaining power such a program would provide to tackle high prices. So Medicare has been banned from negotiating drug prices down, even though it's massive market power would give it significant leverage. 

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