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FACT CHECK: Trump Told “Pie-in-the-Sky” Lies About Prescription Drug Prices at Last Night’s Debate

By September 30, 2020No Comments

Last night, President Trump told lie after lie about his health care record. One of his most egregious lies was about prescription drug prices, when he falsely claimed that he had lowered drug costs by “80 or 90 percent” and that insulin was as cheap as water. The truth is, President Trump is in court right now arguing in favor of California v. Texas, his lawsuit to terminate the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. If Trump’s lawsuit is successful, nearly 12 million seniors will have to pay more for prescription drugs because the Medicare ‘donut hole’ will be reopened, requirements that insurance companies cover prescription drugs will be eliminated and our entire health care system will be thrown into chaos.


Stat: Trump Claims His Policies Made Insulin ‘So Cheap, It’s Like Water.’ But for Most People, It Costs Just as Much as Before. “Not only has he lowered drug prices, President Trump claimed in the first 15 minutes of Tuesday’s debate — but he has helped lower the price of insulin, specifically, so that it is so cheap that it’s ‘like water.’ In reality, insulin still retails for roughly $300 a vial. Most patients with diabetes need two to three vials per month, and some can require much more.” [Stat, 9/29/20

  • Stat: “Trump Also Didn’t Mention the Long List Of Drug Pricing Failures He Has Racked Up Over the Last Four Years.” “But Trump, who also suggested Tuesday that drug prices ‘will be coming down 80 or 90 percent’ under his leadership, has largely struggled to meaningfully lower drug prices. Trump also insisted during Tuesday’s debate that he had implemented a ‘most-favored nations’ policy that would radically lower drug prices, but that plan still hasn’t been implemented. He suggested, too, that he was letting states import drugs from Canada, but it could be months or even years before any state is ready to submit a plan to do so, under rules that were only released last week. Trump also didn’t mention the long list of drug pricing failures he has racked up over the last four years: His idea to require drug makers include their drug prices in TV ads was struck down in court, and his administration has repeatedly flip-flopped on his idea to eliminate the discounts negotiated between drug prices and middlemen.” [Stat, 9/29/20

Washington Post: On Trump’s Claim That Drug Prices Have Fallen 80 or 90 Percent, “There Is Just No Evidence for This Pie-in-the-Sky Prediction.” “There is just no evidence for this pie-in-the-sky prediction. In fact, prescription drug prices are up 3 percent since Trump’s first full month in office through August, according to the consumer price index. In 2019, we found generic prescription drug prices had fallen slightly under Trump, while branded drugs were becoming costlier, according to numerous studies.” [Washington Post, 9/29/20

AP Fact Check: Trump’s Claim That “Drug Prices Will Be Coming Down 80 Or 90%” Is “Not A Reality.” “That’s a promise, not a reality, and it’s a big stretch. Trump has been unable to get legislation to lower drug prices through Congress. Major regulatory actions from his administration are still in the works, and are likely to be challenged in court. There’s no plan on the horizon that would lower drug prices as dramatically as Trump claims. Prescription drug price inflation has been low and slow during the Trump years, but it hasn’t made a U-turn and sped off in the other direction. Prices have seesawed from year to year. Looking back at the totality of Trump’s term, from Jan. 2017, when he was inaugurated, to the latest data from Aug. 2020, drug prices went up 3.6%, according to an analysis by economist Paul Hughes-Cromwick of Altarum, a nonprofit research and consulting organization.” [Associated Press, 9/30/20

NPR: “Trump Claims on Drug Prices Aren’t Accurate.” “When President Trump was asked to explain what health care plan would replace the Affordable Care Act, he pivoted to drug prices…Trump has tried a variety of tactics to bring down drug prices, recently signing four executive orders to lower drug prices on July 24, but health policy experts say they will likely offer only minimal relief and take a long time to implement. Some may not be implemented at all.” [NPR, 9/29/20

Washington Post: The Health 202: “Trump’s Claim About Insulin Was Hardly the Only Way He Misrepresented His Record on Health Policy.” The administration has capped co-pays for insulin at $35 a month in some Medicare prescription drug plans. But insulin remains expensive for millions of Americans with private health coverage or no coverage at all, often adding up to hundreds or thousands of dollars in monthly costs for them. Trump’s claim about insulin was hardly the only way he misrepresented his record on health policy. Just minutes into the debate, the two candidates clashed over his approach to the Affordable Care Act. Biden noted the president’s failure to repeal and replace the law and his administration’s refusal to defend the law before the Supreme Court. Trump continually interrupted him, loudly countering that the law’s penalty for being uninsured was repealed.” [Washington Post, 9/30/20