Mar 10, 2017

How one Democrat reads Trump's mixed signals on drug prices

AP file photo

It's getting harder than ever to read President Trump's statements on drug costs. First, he campaigned on negotiating lower prices. Then, at a meeting with drug company executives, he seemed to backtrack and emphasized competition instead. Then, on Wednesday, he met with two House Democrats who want the government to negotiate prices — and they reported that he was back to agreeing with them.

So which is it? I caught one of the Democrats, Rep. Peter Welch, during a break in the 27-hour Obamacare markup yesterday and asked him for his read on Trump's back-and-forth statements. "I think he is back and forth," Welch acknowledged. "That's because there is a lot of resistance to this in the Republican Party." But he's still convinced that Trump not only supported the specific idea Welch and Rep. Elijah Cummings brought to the meeting — letting Medicare negotiate drug prices — but was willing to take the heat from other Republicans over it.

"Who knows" whether Trump will follow through and push for it, Welch said — but he said Trump "gets the politics" of the issue, and "he knows that the people who voted for him think they're getting ripped off."

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