Trump Wants Medicare To Negotiate Drug Prices Directly With Drugmakers : Shots - Health News A spokesman said Tuesday that President Trump does want Medicare to be able to directly negotiate prescription drug prices with drugmakers. Analysts disagree about how much difference that would make.
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Medicare Should Leverage Buying Power To Pull Down Drug Prices, White House Says

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Medicare Should Leverage Buying Power To Pull Down Drug Prices, White House Says

Medicare Should Leverage Buying Power To Pull Down Drug Prices, White House Says

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/513945538/514049800" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's examine now the contradictory statements the president has made about drug prices. He has said he wants the U.S. government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare, but he's made other statements that seem opposite to that. Here's NPR's Alison Kodjak.

ALISON KODJAK, BYLINE: Drug makers could be forgiven if they're confused about whether the president thinks the government should get involved in price negotiations. Just a few days before he was sworn in, he made this promise.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world and yet we don't bid properly. And we're going to start bidding. And we're going to save billions of dollars over a period of time.

KODJAK: But last week, he seemed to walk that back when he met with the leaders of several giant pharmaceutical companies.

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TRUMP: I'll oppose anything that makes it harder for smaller, younger companies to take the risk of bringing their product to a vibrantly competitive market. That includes price fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's happening.

KODJAK: So yesterday, his spokesman, Sean Spicer, cleared up the confusion, for now at least. He was asked whether the president was for Medicare negotiating lower prices.

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SEAN SPICER: He's for it, yes. He wants to make...

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: He's still for it.

SPICER: Absolutely.

KODJAK: And he went on to say that the U.S. should be doing what other countries do, bring the government's purchasing power to bear to get a better deal.

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SPICER: So his commitment is to make sure that he does what he can and, I think, rather successfully uses his skills as a businessman to drive them down.

KODJAK: But will that actually save money?

WALID GELLAD: There's a reason why the pharmaceutical industry does not want Medicare negotiation to happen and the obvious reason is because it will lower prices.

KODJAK: That's Walid Gellad, who studies drug pricing and policy at the University of Pittsburgh. He says the key to Trump's plan is for Congress to allow Medicare as a whole to negotiate a good price or walk away. That's already allowed at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

GELLAD: If Medicare were to get the same prices for drugs as in the VA, you'd have billions - tens of billions in dollars of savings.

KODJAK: Today, insurers that handle Medicare prescription coverage negotiate separately thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2003. Alison Kodjak, NPR News, Washington.

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