Mar 30, 2017

Trump's surprise: calls CBC's Cummings three times to strategize

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

How serious is President Trump about drug prices? Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings tells me that Trump has called him three times to follow up on their conversation at the White House earlier this month. And Trump's not just talking about letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, Cummings says. It's even worse for Republicans — because Trump is also talking about importing cheaper drugs from other countries.

Why it matters: Trump has said many times he wants to do something about drug prices, and has terrified both the pharmaceutical industry and free-market Republicans with his talk of doing more price negotiations. They assume that means allowing the government, through Medicare, to directly negotiate prices. But if price negotiations are Enemy #1 of prescription drug policy for Republicans, Enemy #2 is allowing importation of drugs from abroad — which Trump also wants to do.

"We came in talking about Medicare, being able to negotiate. And he was saying he wants something even broader," Cummings said. "Then the other thing that we weren't even talking about, was...importation. And then he brought that up, and how ridiculous it was to go to Canada and buy something for $100 and come in the United States and buy it for $900. I think he just sees it as a principle, you know, the idea that, as he said, they're getting away with murder."

Bottom line: "He understands the policy, he gets it," Cummings said. (Democrats introduced a new bill yesterday with those policies and others.)

Go deeper

Zipline drones deliver masks to hospitals; vaccines could be next

Zipline's drone drops medical supplies via parachute. Image courtesy of Zipline.

Zipline, a California drone company, has made its U.S. debut by delivering medical supplies to hospitals in North Carolina under a pilot program honed in Africa.

Why it matters: The effort, made possible by a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration to Novant Health, is the nation's longest-range drone delivery operation and could demonstrate how drones could be used in future pandemics, Zipline officials said.

NHL unveils 24-team playoff plan to return from coronavirus hiatus

Data: NHL; Table: Axios Visuals

The NHL unveiled its return-to-play plan on Tuesday, formally announcing that 24 of its 31 teams will return for a playoff tournament in two hub cities, if and when medically cleared.

Why it matters: Hockey is the first major North American sports league to sketch out its plans to return from a coronavirus-driven hiatus in such detail, and it's also the first one to officially pull the plug on its regular season, which will trigger ticket refunds.

Rising home sales show Americans are looking past the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans are behaving very differently than they have in previous recessions — convinced that the coronavirus pandemic will soon pass, many continue to spend money as if nothing has changed.

Driving the news: The latest example of this trend is the Commerce Department's new home sales report, which showed home sales increased in April despite nationwide lockdowns that banned real estate agents in some states from even showing listed houses.