- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2019

President Trump late Friday endorsed a Senate drug-pricing bill that would cap what seniors pay at the pharmacy counter and require drug makers to rebate Medicare if prices rise faster than inflation.

The bipartisan measure “would be another huge step forward for American families — for their health, their peace of mind, and their financial security,” Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said. “The White House calls on Congress to act now to give Americans the relief they need by sending bipartisan drug pricing reform to the president’s desk this year.”

The statement increases pressure on Senate GOP leaders to put the bill up for a floor vote. Some Republicans don’t like the idea of an inflation cap, saying drug makers may just set initial prices at a higher level.

The White House backed the bill after Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, Iowa Republican, and Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, fine-tuned the measure Friday.

One change would cap the amount of out-pocket-costs that a senior on Medicare has to pay in any given month, spreading costs over a longer period to avoid large one-time expenses.

Ms. Grisham specifically praised the cap for seniors in her statement.

Mr. Grassley is trying to rally senators behind the bill as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushes a more left-leaning plan that calls on Medicare to negotiate prices for insulin and other pricey drugs down toward levels that other developed nations pay.

Mr. Trump and Senate Republicans have rejected that bill as government overreach. They say it could harm the pharmaceutical industry’s ability to develop new medicines.

Runaway drug costs are a key issue for voters, however, so Mr. Trump would like to see progress heading into the 2020 reelection year.

He decided to withdraw his own plan to pass Medicare rebates directly to consumers, and the courts blocked his push to have drug companies disclose their list prices in TV ads.

Beyond the Senate push, the president has floated plans to let states import drugs from Canada and other countries if governors and policymakers can prove the medicines are safe.

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