By far the largest section of President Trump’s address to Congress last night focused on health care—15% according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of the prepared remarks. Notably, the president vowed to “slash the restraints” that keep new treatments out of the hands of patients by doing away with the FDA’s “slow and burdensome” approval process, a remark met with both cheers and jeers.
But before pharmaceutical companies could uncork the champagne, Trump also promised to bird-dog the prices of drugs that might gush through a much more deregulated approval pipeline.
In fact one of the few bipartisan standing ovations the president received was his vow to bring drug prices down. The president said that “we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance—and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.”
Other points the president made about health care:
- Ensuring that people with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage.
- A stable transition for those now enrolled in the ACA exchanges.
- Allowing people to buy their own coverage, “through the use of tax credits and expanded health savings accounts—but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the government.”
- Giving governors resources and flexibility in overseeing Medicaid.
- Enacting legal reforms for patients and doctors that drive up costs—an apparent allusion to cutting down on malpractice lawsuits.
- Allowing people to buy health insurance across state lines.
Trump also cited the case of Megan Crowley, a child diagnosed with a rare and deadly disease called Pompe at 15 months and who was not expected to live past age 5.
“On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child,” Trump said, according to prepared remarks. “He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old—and a sophomore at Notre Dame.”