In late October, the Trump administration announced a plan to lower some Medicare drug prices in part by tying them to an index of prices in other advanced economies, like France and Germany. Analysts said at the time that the proposal — a notable departure from traditional free-market Republican ideology — faced serious, potentially insurmountable, obstacles, including political opposition and a likely intense lobbying effort from doctor groups and the pharmaceutical industry.
Sure enough, The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports that opposition to the plan is building among some Republicans and conservatives:
- Conservative groups, including Americans for Tax Reform and FreedomWorks, sent a letter last week to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar criticizing the proposal as importing price controls from other countries and calling for the plan to be withdrawn.
- On Thursday, House Republicans questioned Azar about the plan and raised their concerns in a private meeting.
- Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is talking to other Senate Republicans about writing another letter to the administration raising concerns about the idea. Those concerns are shared by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who will chair the Finance committee starting next month. A Grassley spokesperson told The Hill that “the creation of price controls is not the solution.”
Using the Trump administration’s own words against it: An online ad campaign by the American Conservative Union uses an October report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers on the dangers of socialism to criticize the drug-pricing proposal.
The bottom line: “For now, the administration is not backing down and insists it is willing to fight back against the powerful pharmaceutical industry, which is working to kill the proposal,” Sullivan writes. But Trump and Azar surely face an intense fight ahead.