Stories

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.)