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Trump’s Evolution on Medicare Negotiation: From #1 Fan to Veto Threat

By December 11, 2019No Comments

Starting with his time as a candidate, President Trump has vocally supported giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices. Trump has praised the policy again and again, both on the campaign trail and in the White House. Yet with the House poised to pass the Lower Drug Costs Now Act this week, a bill that finally does what he promised and just months ago he lauded as “great to see,” he threatens it with a veto. President Trump’s hypocrisy on giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower prices isn’t shocking given how time and again he ends up choosing Big Pharma and protecting their profits over siding with Americans who want lower costs.         

To understand Trump’s true hypocrisy on this issue, here’s a timeline of his evolution on Medicare negotiation: 


JANUARY 2016: Trump Said He Would “Bid Out” Drugs For Medicare And Save $300 Billion. [Donald Trump, Rally, Farmington, NH, 1/25/16

  • HEADLINE: “Donald Trump Endorses An Idea Liberals Love: Letting Medicare Negotiate Drug Prices.” [Vox, 1/26/16
  • HEADLINE: “Donald Trump Says Medicare Should Negotiate Drug Prices” [Associated Press, 1/26/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “If We Competitively Bid Drugs In The United States, We Could Save As Much As $300 Billion A Year. Think Of That.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Holderness, NH, 2/7/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump Said The Drug Company Lobby Was Preventing Price Negotiations. “We’re not allowed to negotiate. If we negotiated — if we negotiated the price of drugs — and what you do is simple do a favored-nations list, whoever pot — right? Simple. Whoever pays the lowest cost throughout the world for these drugs we get that. And I’d say a 10% discount, right? We would save $300 billion a year. Think of it, one simple thing. But we can’t negotiate with the drug companies because all these guys that I’m running against and others and others won’t allow that to happen. Because the big drug companies have a lobby.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Tampa, FL, 2/7/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We Don’t Really Negotiate The Price Of Drugs Because We’re Prohibited From Doing So. If We Did, We Would Save Perhaps $300 Billion A Year.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Greenville, SC, 2/15/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “If We Negotiated The Price Of Drugs, We’d Save $300 Billion A Year.” [MSNBC Town Hall, 2/17/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We’re Going To Put Drugs Out To Bid Folks. And We’re Going To Save $300 Billion A Year.”  [Donald Trump, Rally, Gaffney, SC, 2/18/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump Said He Supported “Bidding Out” Drugs And Doing “A Favored Nations Laws” To Index Drug Prices To International Prices. “ We don’t bid the cost of drugs. We don’t bid it out. If we bid it out we would save approximately $300 billion, OK? $300 billion.”  [Donald Trump, Rally, Charleston, SC, 2/19/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We Would Save $300 Billion A Year In This Country If We Bid Out Drugs.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Pawleys Island, SC, 2/19/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “If We Bid Out Pharmaceuticals Drugs And Those Things We Would Save Each Year $300 Billion.” “If we bid out pharmaceuticals drugs and those things we would save each year $300 billion.’ Three hundred billion dollars as a country.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Las Vegas, NV, 2/22/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “The Pharmaceutical Industry Takes Care Of All The Senators And All The Congressmen, Have A Very Strong Lobby And They Don’t Want To Bid Our Drugs.”…”If You Bid Them Up We’ll Save $300 Billion.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Virginia Beach, VA, 2/24/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “We’re Going To Change The System, We’re Going To Clean It Up. We’re Going To Clean It Up. You Know, We Could Save As Much As $300 Billion If We Went Out And Bid.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Valdosta, GA, 2/26/16

FEBRUARY 2016: Trump: “I Don’t Give A Damn About The Drug Companies. I Don’t Give A Damn.”We don’t bid. Why don’t we bid? Because the drug companies have these guys totally under control. I don’t give a damn about the drug companies. I don’t give a damn. So the money that we’ll save and here’s the end result. The end result is the product will be better.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Bentonville, AR, 2/27/16

MARCH 2016: Trump: “Because Of The Fact That The Pharmaceutical Companies Are Not Mandated To Bid Properly, They Have Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars In Waste.” [Donald Trump, Republican Presidential Debate, 3/3/16

MARCH 2016: Trump: “We’ll Save Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars Billions Of Dollars By Bidding.” “Essentially we don’t bid our drugs we’re the largest purchaser of drugs in the world. Drugs to make you better. We’re the largest purchaser of drugs in the world and we don’t put it out because the drug companies, they have such a monopoly over these senators that we deal with. ” [Donald Trump, Rally, Wichita, KS, 3/5/16


JANUARY 2017: Trump: “The Other Thing We Have To Do Is Create New Bidding Procedures For The Drug Industry Because They’re Getting Away With Murder.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New York, NY, 1/11/17

FEBRUARY 2017: Sean Spicer Stated That Trump Was “Absolutely” Still In Favor Of Medicare Price Negotiations. Question: So is he for Medicare negotiating drug prices, or not? Sean Spicer: He’s for it, yes. He wants to make sure — Question: He’s still for it? Spicer:  Absolutely.” [Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 2/7/17

MARCH 2017: Trump: “We Are Also Going To Work On Bringing Down The Cost Of Medicine By Having A Fair And Competitive Bidding Process.” The cost of medicine in this country is outrageous, many times higher than in some countries in Europe and elsewhere. Why? Same pill, same manufacturer, identical, and it’s many times higher in the United States. You know why? Campaign contributions, who knows? But somebody is getting very rich. We’re going to bring it down and we’re going to have a great, competitive bidding process. Medicine prices will be coming way down, way, way, way down. And that’s going to happen fast.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Louisville, KY, 3/20/17

MARCH 2017: Trump: “We’re Going To Bid Out Drug Prices And We’re Going To Try And Have The Lowest Prices Anywhere In The World From Really The Highest.” We’ll probably need some legislation but we’re going to do it regardless. We have to do it and we’re going to get drug prices way down, way down. Some people think it’s as important as the healthcare measure because people are being ripped off when they need they’re – they need drugs. They need prescription drugs and we’re going to take care of that situation.” [Donald Trump, Meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Washington, DC, 3/22/17


MAY 2018: HEADLINE: “Trump to Drop Call for Medicare to Negotiate Lower Drug Prices” [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: New York Times: “In A Break From One Of His Most Popular Campaign Promises, He Will Not Call For Medicare To Negotiate Lower Prices With Drug Manufacturers.” “President Trump will lay out on Friday a broad strategy to reduce prescription drug prices, but in a break from one of his most popular campaign promises, he will not call for Medicare to negotiate lower prices with drug manufacturers, senior administration officials said. [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: A “Senior Administration Official” Said “We Are Not Calling For Medicare Negotiation In The Way That Democrats Have Called For.” [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: Trump’s Top Health Care Officials “Strenuously Oppose” Medicare Negotiation. “As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump supported two ideas that are anathema to the pharmaceutical industry: allowing Medicare officials to negotiate prices and allowing consumers to import prescription drugs from Canada and certain other countries where brand-name drug prices are generally lower than in the United States. But top administration officials, like Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, strenuously oppose those ideas.  [New York Times, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: Washington Post: Trump’s Drug Plan Will “Seek To Improve Negotiation Within The Medicare Program, But Not By Using The Government’s Clout To Negotiate For Medicare As Trump Has Previously Proposed.” [Washington Post, 5/10/18

  • Washington Post: “During His Presidential Campaign, Trump Called For The Government To Use Its Clout To Negotiate Medicare Drug Prices, But Senior Administration Officials Said He Would Not Call For That Change — Which Is Stridently Opposed By Drug Companies.” [Washington Post, 5/10/18

MAY 2018: HEADLINE: “Trump Sells Out To The Drug Companies, According To Trump” [Washington Post, 5/11/18


SEPTEMBER 2019: Trump Said It Was “Great To See” Nancy Pelosi’s Prescription Drug Price Bill Which Included Medicare Negotiations.  “Trump praised the rollout of the plan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday, tweeting that ‘it’s great to see Speaker Pelosi’s bill today. Let’s get it done in a bipartisan way!’” [NBC News, 9/20/19

  • SEPTEMBER 2019: HEADLINE: “Trump Praises Rollout Of Pelosi’s Drug Pricing Bill After Mcconnell Rejects The Measure” [NBC News, 9/20/19

NOVEMBER 2019: Trump: “Pelosi And Her Do Nothing Democrats Drug Pricing Bill Doesn’t Do The Trick. FEWER Cures! FEWER Treatments!” [@realDonaldTrump, 11/22/19

DECEMBER 2019: Trump Said He Would Veto H.R. 3. “If H.R. 3 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.” [Statement of Administration Policy, HR 3, 12/10/19