Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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Act on modest drug price bill

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President Trump’s proposal for promoting competition in setting prescription drug prices is a step in the right direction.

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President Trump’s proposal for promoting competition in setting prescription drug prices is a step in the right direction.

Since the failure of Republican attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, health-related legislation has disappeared from the front burner.

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President Trump on Friday came forward with a nuanced proposal that maintains the insurance-based method of paying for health care while asserting a government role in forcing more competition.

It’s not what the President promised during the campaign, which was to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.

Under the Trump plan, many of the middlemen who add unnecessary cost would be removed from the process. Mr. Trump promised an end to “the dishonest double-dealing that allows the middleman to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed on to consumers and patients.”

Private benefits manager in benefits managers in Medicare’s prescription drug program would be able to negotiate lower prices. Those private benefits managers would have to stop limiting pharmacists from helping patients save money.

And the plan would speed up approval of over-the-counter medicines so fewer will require prescriptions.

The President directed U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to make it a priority to stop foreign countries from forcing American drug-makers to provide medicines at drastically lower prices than in the United States.

In his speech in the Rose Garden, Mr. Trump claimed to have made a number of fixes in drug costs already in his presidency. The latest addition, he said, was aimed at the “tangled web of special interests.”

The plan was met with a chorus of boos from the single-payer lobby. Meanwhile, pharmaceutical stock prices shot up.

America needs to rein in the anti-competitive practices of the pharmacological industry and its enablers in the insurance and benefits management industries.

The direction Mr. Trump has proposed is positive from all responsible points of view, even if merely incremental. Congress should move this legislation to the top of its domestic agenda quickly.

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