Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed an amendment Tuesday to lower the cost of prescription drugs by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices and allowing for the importation from other countries of low-cost prescription drugs – both proposals advocated by President-elect Donald Trump.
Republicans blocked the Sanders amendment.
During his run for the White House, Trump called for requiring Medicare to negotiate with drug companies to lower prices. In a speech in New Hampshire last Feb. 7, Trump criticized current U.S. law that forbids Medicare from negotiating prices with pharmaceutical companies. Trump said: “We are not allowed to negotiate drug prices. Can you believe it? We pay about $300 billion more than we are supposed to, than if we negotiated the price. So there’s $300 billion on day one we solve.”
Trump’s campaign platform also advocated making it legal to reimport cheaper drugs from other countries.
Sanders offered an amendment to implement Trump’s campaign promises.
“I am sure that all of my Republican colleagues will support an amendment in my hands that will do exactly what Mr. Trump said he would accomplish as president,” Sanders told Senate colleagues. But Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) objected to holding a vote on the amendment.
Without those changes in a bill now before Congress, Sanders said he could not support the overall legislation because it caves to the demands of the pharmaceutical industry and cuts Medicare and Medicaid by $1 billion.
“It is incomprehensible to me that we have a major bill dealing with prescription drugs and yet we are running from the most important issue and that is the greed of the pharmaceutical industry,” Sanders said. “The prescription drug industry, along with Wall Street, is the most powerful political force in America. I have been fighting the greed of the prescription drug industry for decades. And, as far as I can tell, the prescription drug industry always wins, but the American people lose.”
To see the amendment, click here.