Hey everyone — welcome to a special Trump press conference edition of Vitals. Why? Because the president-elect made a lot of health care news at the press conference — on drug prices, the Veterans Administration, and, of course, Obamacare. So here's what you need to know.
Drug companies are still in trouble
The president-elect ended the mystery of whether he still wants Medicare to negotiate drug prices: The answer is yes. Just as he did during the campaign,. Trump called for "new bidding procedures for the drug industry" — adding that "they're getting away with murder." Negotiating drug prices, he said, could save "billions of dollars over time."
Pharma has a lot of lobbyists, a lot of lobbyists, a lot of power ... We're the largest buyer of drugs in the world, and yet we don't bid properly. — President-elect Trump
What it means: Trump still doesn't talk about the idea in any more detail than he did in the campaign. He doesn't even clarify whether he actually means Medicare negotiations. But that's what most Democrats mean when they talk about negotiating drug prices — and until we get more clarity, that's what's making the pharmaceutical industry extremely nervous.
Trump administration to offer repeal and replace plan
The president-elect said his team will propose an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan as soon as Tom Price is confirmed as Health and Human Services secretary:
It'll be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously ... It will most likely be on the same day, or the same week, but probably the same day. Could be the same hour. — Trump on Obamacare
Between the lines: It's a big step, and it suggests that Trump's proposal to Congress will look a lot like the past proposals from Price, who worked on Obamacare replacement plans for years as a member of Congress.
What's missing: Any details at all. But to prepare yourselves, take a look at Price's most recent replacement plan.
David Shulkin to head the Veterans Administration
Trump said he's naming Shulkin, currently an undersecretary of health at the VA, to lead the troubled agency. He also said top hospital officials will keep advising them, including Toby Cosgrove, the head of the Cleveland Clinic, who was up for the job himself but withdrew.
"He's fantastic, he's fantastic. He'll do a truly great job," Trump said of Shulkin. "Our veterans have been treated horribly. They've been waiting in line for 15, 16, 17 days ... We're going to straighten out the VA for our veterans."
How the pharmaceutical industry reacted, in real time
Drug industry stocks plunged right after Trump made his comments about negotiating prices. But they started to recover as the press conference went on. Here's a screenshot shared by our financial reporter, Christopher Matthews.
Thanks for reading. Back with more tomorrow morning.