Sens. Smith, Warren Press HHS Secretary Azar on Trump Administration’s Broken Promises to Lower Drug Prices Ahead of Hearing on Tuesday, June 12

WASHINGTON, D.C. [06/11/18]—U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—both members of the Senate Health Committee—have called on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to address their concerns about the Trump Administration’s inadequate proposals to reduce drug prices and his broken campaign promises to “negotiate like crazy” for lower drug prices. Last month, the senators also sent letters to the top ten drug company CEOs asking if they had voluntarily reduced prices as President Trump and Secretary Azar have suggested they would in response to the Administration’s drug pricing blueprint. Not one company had done so—and one of the few companies that gave a clear answer to the senators’ letter indicated that they have “some planned price increases later this year.”

You can access a copy of the letter to Secretary Azar here.

“During the campaign, President Trump made a series of bold promises about reducing drug prices,” wrote Sens. Smith and Warren to Secretary Azar. “We are gravely concerned that the American public has been misled by the President—that his plan breaks his campaign promises, and would do little to reduce out-of-pocket drug costs for American families.”

In the letter, the senators voiced four major concerns with the Administration’s drug proposals: 

1) The plan could “significantly increase out-of-pocket costs for some of the sickest people on Medicare by shifting drug coverage from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D.”

2) President Trump’s promises that voluntary price reductions constitute a solution to the drug pricing problem are proven failures.

3) The plan does nothing to reduce runaway drug company profits and exorbitant drug company CEO pay.

4) The plan was reportedly developed by former drug industry lobbyists, with little input from patients and seniors with high drugs costs.    

In their letter to Secretary Azar, the senators raised particular concern about the President’s broken promise to save “$300 billion a year” by negotiating for lower drug prices. His new plan contains no new negotiating authority for the federal government, even in cases where the government pays billions of dollars for prescription drugs. Instead, the plan relies on a weak substitute for meaningful negotiation by proposing to shift an unspecified set of drugs from Medicare Part B to Medicare Part D. But experts indicate that this plan could result in even higher costs and co-pays for millions of seniors.

Sens. Smith and Warren called on Secretary Azar to be prepared to answer their questions about the Trump Administration’s proposals at his appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee tomorrow, June 12.

You can access a copy of the letter here.