Tuesday, January 31, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He met with pharmaceutical industry representatives and completely reversed his campaign promise to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Since 2003, Medicare has been forbidden from using its purchasing power to negotiate bulk discounts on the drugs it buys. Repealing this restriction was popular with Democratic and independent voters, and Trump campaigned heavily on the issue. As recently as January 10th, Trump said that the pharmaceutical industry was "getting away with murder."

However, after meeting with drug company executives today, Trump said he was opposed to "price-fixing by the biggest dog in the market, Medicare, which is what's [already] happening." (Because of the 2003 law, it is not happening. It's not clear if Trump was confused about this, or was lying to create confusion on the matter.)

Trump instead proposed tax breaks for drug companies and cutting regulations.

What's the problem here?

  • Some voters may have believed Trump when he said he was in favor of (and not opposed to) lowering Medicare's drug costs through market forces.
  • It's a bad sign if a president's views on a major policy issue can be completely reversed in one meeting.