WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump said he plans to sign a "very inclusive" health care plan "very soon" -- perhaps as soon as Sunday -- that will result in Americans paying significantly less for pharmaceutical drugs.
"I want what's right for the people," he said Friday at a news briefing in Florida. "We're going to bring our drug prices down to levels that nobody ever thought possible."
Trump described on Friday a "favored nations" plan under which his administration would take the country that has the lowest drug prices as the yardstick for what Americans should be charged.
While he provided few other details, on July 24, Trump announced plans for executive orders to lower prescription drug prices under Medicare by linking them to rates paid in other countries and allowing Americans to buy medication imported from Canada.
He's been seeking to repair his standing on health care issues, particularly with senior voters. Polls have shown sentiment is souring over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and efforts to eliminate the Affordable Care Act without having a ready replacement.
McLaughlin & Associates, a consulting and polling firm, produced a memo Wednesday for Republican leaders saying that "price transparency is a winning issue in key battleground states."
The memo, co-authored by the firm's chief executive officer, John McLaughlin, said Republicans need to show what they stand for on health care. Voters got the message that the Republicans want to repeal Obamacare but they don't know what the party supports, according to the memo.
"You can't beat something with nothing," according to the memo. "We now have an alternative that is a winning solution -- one that received broader and deeper public support than Medicare for All."
Republicans in "tough races" are backing transparency legislation and it's popular with voters, according to the McLaughlin memo, whose second author is David Kochel of Redwave Communications, a consulting firm in Des Moines, Iowa.
"As veterans of dozens of local, state and national campaigns, we've rarely seen an issue with such compelling numbers across partisan lines," the memo says.
The memo says the measure can be passed into law under legislation whose authors include Republican Sens. Mike Braun of Indiana and Chuck Grassley of Iowa. There's a companion bill in the House.
The pharmaceutical industry was sharply critical of Trump's orders on drug prices. Pfizer Inc. Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said he was "disappointed" by them, especially given the industry's focus on finding treatments and vaccines for the novel coronavirus.
"They pose enormous distraction at a time when the industry needs to be completely focused on developing a potential COVID-19 vaccine or treatment," Bourla said Tuesday on an earning call with investors. "The international price index is radical. Not only is it imposing socialized medicine to America, it also will create uncertainty and could lead to job losses."
Trump agreed that his plan had upset the industry, saying at the Florida briefing, "the pharmaceutical companies aren't exactly in love with Donald Trump and they'll advertise."
The order tying prescription-drug prices to international benchmarks won't go into effect until Aug. 24 to give drugmakers time to come up with alternative measures for lowering costs, Trump said in the July 24 announcement.
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