Last year during his presidential campaign, Donald Trump accused drug companies of charging outrageous prices for prescription drugs and "getting away with murder." Soon after he took office, he promised that he would take swift action to bring down the cost of medicines. But since then, Trump has taken no action and supported not a single bill. Frustrated with his inactivity, Representatives Elijah Cummings and Peter Welch have sent him a sharp letter expressing their disappointment, and joined with other Democrats to introduce a bill allowing Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices.
In the letter, Rep. Cummings and Welch note that they met with Trump on March 8th, gave him draft language of a bill permitting Medicare negotiations, and sent him two subsequent letters. However, they have received no response. They write to "express our profound disappointment that you have not chosen to follow through on your campaign promise to lower drug prices for the American people."
Cummings and Welch note that it has been over seven months since they tried to work with Trump, but nothing came of it. "Unfortunately," they observe, "instead of working with us collaboratively on a proposal to lower drug prices, officials in your Administration reportedly spent the past several months developing an executive order to grant the pharmaceutical industry a wish list of executive actions that would increase drug prices even more--not lower them." This refers to a proposed executive order on drug prices, a draft of which was leaked earlier this summer. It contained few measures that would reduce drug prices, and was basically a big giveaway to drug companies.
On response, Cumming and Welch, along with a number of Democratic Senators, are introducing the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act. The bill would allow the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate directly with drug companies to obtain lower prices for participants in Medicare Part D, and it would require that a public report be released after each negotiation period. Democrats have long supported this proposal, but the vast majority of Republicans have opposed it. On the campaign trial, Trump implied that he favored the idea and said it would save billions of dollars.
But he hasn't done anything. And the Trump administration has not responded to any of Mr. Cummings and Mr. Welch's requests. The President has found time to engage in Twitter fights with a war widow, Senators, a Puerto Rican mayor, and countless individuals, but he can't or won't spare the time to help Americans obtain affordable drugs.
It is severely disappointing that Trump's talk about lowering drug costs has proven to be a lot of hot air. We support Medicare negotiations, urge Congress to pass it as soon as possible, and hope that the President will come to his senses and support it too.