Nov 25, 2019

Impeachment hasn't dulled Trump's interest in drug prices

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Trump administration is pushing ahead with its drug pricing agenda even as impeachment sucks up all the political oxygen, with plans to advance some of its most ambitious regulations and to work with Congress on legislation.

Why it matters: Drug pricing remains a huge issue that both parties want to run on in 2020. For Trump, there's a lot of pressure: His most ambitious proposals have either been tabled, are tied up in the courts or have yet to be implemented.

Driving the news: The administration is planing to have the next regulatory phase of the international pricing index — a notice of proposed rulemaking — ready to issue within a month, a senior administration official said.

  • That leaves plenty of time for the industry to kill the proposal, but it's a signal that the administration isn't yet backing down from the proposal in the face of intense opposition from the drug industry.
  • The administration has also been working with states on potential rules to allow drugs to be imported from other countries.

The administration is also working with Congress on drug pricing legislation, and thinks that it's still possible that the Senate passes a bill by the end of the year.

  • The official said that the administration is working with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Ron Wyden to add a monthly cap on what seniors pay out-of-pocket for drugs through Medicare.
  • The administration also wants change the way that bill would take money from drugmakers, to address industry concerns that it would hit some drugs and therapeutic areas harder than others.

The bottom line: Trump certainly has a political incentive to get something done on drug prices, but some of these policies could go a long way toward helping Americans — especially seniors — afford their drugs.

Yes, but: These administrative actions haven't yet been formally proposed, and could take years to finalize — meaning there's no guarantee they'll actually happen before the 2020 election.

Go deeper: Scoop: Trump administration pushing new drug spending cap

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Virginia governor announces removal of Richmond's Robert E. Lee statue

Photo: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Thursday that the state will remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's historic Monument Avenue.

Why it matters: It's a watershed moment for Virginia, which has been at the center of a years-long national debate about whether Confederate monuments should be displayed publicly. That discussion reached a boiling point when protests about a statue of Lee in Charlottesville turned violent in 2017.

RNC expands convention search across the Sun Belt

Donald Trump, Mike Pence and their families on the last night of the Republican National Convention in Ohio in 2016. Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

The Republican National Committee is planning site visits over the next 10 days to more than a half-dozen cities — across the South and into Texas and Arizona — as it scrambles for a new convention host, people familiar with the internal discussions tell Axios.

Driving the news: The RNC's executive committee voted Wednesday night to allow most of the convention to move — with only a smaller, official portion remaining in Charlotte — after North Carolina's governor said the coronavirus pandemic would mean a scaled-back event with social distancing and face coverings.

Oil faces tough road back from coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Oil companies in the battered shale patch are starting to bring back some production as prices climb, but a new report underscores how the pandemic is taking a heavy financial toll despite signs of revival.

Driving the news: Fourteen North American producers have filed for bankruptcy thus far during the second quarter, per a tally from the law firm Haynes and Boone, which closely tracks the sector's finances.