President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal flirts with combating high prescription drug prices, but industry watchers say the tweaks to Medicare and Medicaid do little more than dance around the edges of lowering the actual prices of drugs.
The White House’s proposal, which comes after Congress passed a two-year spending deal last week, though, sets the tone for the administration’s focus on prescription drugs.
“Drug costs are a populist issue for the president,” and he’s made it clear to his staff that progress needs to be made this year, said Dan Mendelson, president of Avalere Health, a health care consulting firm.
The proposal targets billions of drug spending cuts in the federal Medicare program, which provides health care for about 60 million people age 65 and older or younger patients with disabilities, and alters drug spending in Medicaid’s safety-net program for nearly 70 million Americans.
And the sheer size of the federal government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs means any drug pricing tweaks that do get made are meaningful — just not necessarily groundbreaking.