WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump laid out a plan Friday to reduce prescription drug prices, U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings accused him of abandoning a campaign proposal to allow Medicare to directly negotiate lower prices with drug companies.
“I think very expensive champagne will be popping in drug company boardrooms across the country tonight,” said Cummings, a 12-term representative from Baltimore who is the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
In a Rose Garden speech, Trump said his administration “is launching the most sweeping action in history to lower the price of prescription drugs for the American people.”
The plan relies on increased market competition and, the president said, “reducing regulatory burdens so drugs can be gotten to the market quicker and cheaper.”
“We will have tougher negotiation, more competition and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter. And it will start to take effect very soon,” Trump said.
Trump’s proposals did not include direct negotiations by Medicare, a strategy long embraced by Democrats and by Trump during the campaign.
The president did say in his speech that his proposal gives Medicare plans “new tools to negotiate lower prices for more drugs.”
Those tools were not delineated in the speech, and Cummings said through a committee spokeswoman that they fell short of the president’s campaign plan and that Cummings’ criticism still applied.
Cummings’ Democratic committee staff on Friday released a report accusing the administration of allowing “skyrocketing drug prices” during its first year.
The report said Trump pushed Congress “to enact one of the largest tax cuts in history, including for drug companies and their wealthy executives.”
It also said 16 of the top 20 best-selling drugs in the United States “increased significantly in price in the first year of the Trump Administration, mostly by double digits.” It also said 12 of the top 20 most expensive drugs for Medicare Part D increased in price in the first year.