Democrat: Trump 'enthusiastic' about call for Medicare to negotiate drug prices

The Maryland Democrat said he spoke to Trump on the issue three times recently.

ByABC News
March 12, 2017, 1:57 PM

— -- Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings said President Trump in recent meetings was "enthusiastic" about proposals to lower drug prices by having Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and by importing less costly medicines from Canada or other foreign countries.

Cummings said he met three times over the past week with the president about drug prices.

“I can tell you that the president was enthusiastic about not the only proposal that Congressman [Peter] Welch and I had with regard to Medicare being able to negotiate drug prices, but he was also enthusiastic about another proposal … and that is the importation of drugs from places like Canada and other foreign countries,” Cummings told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

But in an earlier interview on the show, the president's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, downplayed the possibility of letting Medicare deal directly with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices.

Stephanopoulos asked Mulvaney: “So is the administration going to get fully behind this idea to have Medicare negotiate drug prices directly?”

“The one I’m more familiar with, George, is how we’re looking at trying to figure out a way to drive down drug prices through changing the regulatory requirement,” Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said.

Mulvaney said the reason drug prices are high is the “inability for drug companies and medical device manufacturers to get things approved” by government regulators.

Cummings, however, said he talked to the president on Wednesday in a meeting at the White House, and that Trump also called him Friday morning and Friday evening to reiterate that lowering the costs of prescription drugs is a top priority for him.

“The president -- I was surprised on Friday evening when he called me Friday evening. He called me Friday morning … So we have had now three discussions with regard to this issue,” said Cummings.

When Stephanopoulos noted that Mulvaney “didn’t seem to endorse” the proposal for Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices, the congressman replied, “Yes, I heard that."

Cummings said Trump "made it clear to me that he was going to do something about" drug prices. “So we will see.”