A proposal from President Donald Trump to lower the drug prices in Medicare is seeing some obstacles from the Republican opposition.
In an attempt to lower the drug prices in the US, Trump had proposed to base payments for certain drugs off of lower prices in other countries, in October.
During a speech at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Trump had said, “Same company, same box, same pill, made in the exact same location. And you go to some countries and it would be 20 percent of what we pay.” He further added, “We’re fixing it.”
On Tuesday, a union of conservative groups, including Americans for Tax Reform and FreedomWorks wrote a letter to demand the withdrawal of the proposal.
On Thursday, HHS Secretary Alex Azar was questioned by the GOP lawmakers about the Trump drug pricing plan. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also raised concerns about the proposal with other GOP senators.
From a long time, Trump administration has been criticizing drug companies for charging whatever they want. The officials insist on changing the system.
What worries critics is the proposal might import price controls from other countries. Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), a GOP lawmaker who publicly criticized the plan, said: “I understand that we do want to get drug prices down but I think that any proposal that would lead to government price-fixing in that space is a pathway we don’t want to follow.”
As of now, Trump administration is not ready to give up. Instead, it is willing to fight the pharmaceutical industry and impose the Trump drug pricing plan.
The administration will face trouble if Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who will be the Chairman of the Finance Committee from January, would oppose the proposal.
A spokesperson of Grassley said, “Portions of the Administration’s proposal raise concerns about the possibility of importing price controls from other countries.” He further added that while foreign countries might not be paying their share for drugs, “the creation of price controls is not the solution.”
On the other hand, there are more Democrats supporting Trump’s proposal than Republicans. A similar proposal was withdrawn under former President Obama due to industry and congressional opposition.
However, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) warned against the proposal, saying “The recovery period for all the money you put into a drug to begin with gets stretched out and therefore all these things you’d like to work on and research have to wait.”
The administration is hearing out all the concerns raised. The HHS spokesperson said that Azar has been “meeting and talking with many members of Congress across the aisle to discuss” the Trump drug pricing plan.