HHS Secretary: Trump Drug Pricing Plan Will Go ‘Much Further’ Than Budget Proposal

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the administration is working on a plan to tackle high drug prices that would go “much further” than the proposals in President Trump’s budget.

Azar referred to the upcoming plan as a “comprehensive strategy” and briefly laid out the four areas the plan will address at a speech at the annual World Health Care Congress.

The list includes tackling high list prices, seniors and government programs paying too much for drugs, rising out-of-pocket costs, and foreign governments “free-riding off of American investment in innovation.”

“Action is desperately needed: There’s little difference for a sick patient between a miracle cure that hasn’t been discovered and one that is too expensive to use,” Azar said.

“I believe we can help lower the cost of medicine while still promoting research that will transform the future of health care. Doing both is the only way forward,” Azar added during a speech largely focusing on transforming the health-care system to one that pays for patients’ health outcomes, rather than one focused on the amount of care doctors deliver.

Trump is expected to give a speech on drug pricing next week.

The speech was originally slated for late April but was postponed after Azar was hospitalized for an intestinal condition. At the time, the White House indicated that the speech wouldn’t include new policy proposals other than requesting information on “various drug pricing ideas,” according to deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley.

Trump has used strong language against drug companies, repeatedly saying they are “getting away with murder,” though there’s been little action on drug prices to date.

In February, the Trump administration released its budget proposal that included ways to combat high drug prices, such as capping out-of-pocket spending for enrollees in Medicare’s prescription drug program and allowing up to five states to test drug coverage and financing in their Medicaid programs.

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