Democrat Buttigieg Floats Plan to Slash Rising Drug Costs

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg unveiled his plan on Monday to slash prescription drug costs for senior citizens and target pharmaceutical companies for rising prices, the latest 2020 candidate to detail policies to tackle the issue.

Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said his plan would cut out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for seniors on the Medicare government insurance program by at least 50% by the end of his first term and cap costs for out-of-pocket prescription drug costs for anyone who chooses his public insurance plan at under $250 per month.

The plan would also go after pharmaceutical companies by penalizing those that raise drug prices by more than inflation, threatening to take patents away from companies that refuse to lower essential drug prices and allowing the federal government to negotiate with companies to make drugs more affordable.

“Instead of siding with Americans, politicians have stood with Big Pharma, as they did when Congress barred the federal government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies on drug prices for seniors,” said Buttigieg. “It’s time for a new era of leadership in Washington who will finally make drugs affordable and take on pharmaceutical companies.”

Asked by Reuters how Buttigieg would pay for his plan, an aide said it was “cost neutral,” with between $1 billion and $2 billion of costs coming from taxes and penalties on drug companies. The aide declined to give more specifics.

Democrats vying for their party’s nomination to face Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election see affordable healthcare as an Achilles’ heel for Trump, whose administration has failed to push through several initiatives to lower drug prices.

A federal judge in July shot down a Trump executive order that would have forced drugmakers to display list prices in advertisements, and Trump scrapped another planned order that would have banned some rebate payments that drugmakers make to payers.

DEMOCRATIC PROPOSALS

Several Democratic candidates have floated plans or supported legislation to enable direct government regulation or control of prescription drug prices.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar announced a plan over the summer to help lower the cost of pharmaceuticals purchased by seniors. [nL2N24C1ZZ] Senator Elizabeth Warren also has a Medicare pricing plan. Senator Kamala Harris in July floated a plan that would enable the government to set fair prices for prescription drugs.

Senator Bernie Sanders went to Canada in July for an event to highlight the difference in the price of insulin. [nL2N24T07O] Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic field’s front-runner, said he wanted to repeal the law that prohibits Medicare from negotiating lower prices with drug companies and limit price increases for all brand-name, biotech and “abusively priced” generic drugs to inflation. [nL2N24F089]

Buttigieg’s plan would also require drug companies under a public plan or Medicare to report prices and manufacturing costs to the federal government to boost pricing transparency, reduce median annual out-of-pocket spending for drugs for those living with cancer or immune disorders and tackle the opioid epidemic by reducing the cost of naloxone – a drug used to reverse overdoses.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Additional reporting by Tim Reid; Editing by Peter Cooney)

Responses

  1. Phyllis, Trumps plan to import drugs from Canada will work about as well as his plan to make prescription drug prices on advertisements.

    If, by some amazing twist, Trump can push this through, it will either be deemed unlawful in some court, or they’ll be subject to huge tariffs, you know, to save the US drug manufacturing sector. They probably wouldn’t end up being any cheaper for us. The pharma lobbyists have strong Kung-fu.

  2. Bob, we don’t really care how much we pay for things here in the US. We don’t like to compare ourselves to Commie countries where things are cheaper. We like shorter warranty periods on the things we buy, because we will just buy more stuff when they break after 12 months. We enjoy having to calculate sales tax when shopping ourselves instead of seeing actual prices on the labels. We don’t mind that our advertised cable tv prices are an extra 30% because of hidden fees. We willingly pay higher prices for slower internet than the rest of the world, and we don’t care if the ISPs manage how we use the data that we pay for if it benefits them. And we certainly love that we pay much more than anywhere else for healthcare, because we know that we’re getting our money’s worth and we’re not falling for that socialism crap.

    All those pesky diabetics can just drive up to Canada if they insist on getting cheaper, inferior insulin. That border is still pretty open to travel. Of course, it would be easier if we could just order it from there directly, but we can’t flood our market with dangerous, loose-cannon, Canadian prescription drugs. We want to keep our prescription drugs safe and well regulated, like we do with our opioids.

    1. So I take it you are opposed to Trump’s plan to import prescription drugs from Canada?

  3. And how about Insulin…. all that HF Corn syrup that is put in everything (practically everything) has made America a diabetic capital. The patent for Insulin was free to all by the inventors…. so why is it that it is $20 a vial in Canada and $450-700 a vial in the US.?

    1. Why? Because we keep on electing bad politicians.

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