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Opponents say Trump's facts in State of the Union don't add up

The president promised to protect Medicaid, yet his Administration's proposal to change the funding mechanism would cap funds, physician says.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

Reaction to President Trump's healthcare policies and claims of lower drug prices and protections for Medicare and Medicaid began before the end of his State of the Union speech.

During the address, the president asked for bipartisan support to lower prescription drug prices, saying he would sign a bill into law without delay.

Democrats in the chamber took issue, as the Democratic-led House recently passed H.R. 3, legislation to lower drug prices through federal direct negotiation with drug companies. A sea of Democrats dressed in white stood and held up three fingers to the chant of "HR3."

The bill is currently going nowhere, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans object to the bill's call for price controls.

AARP said the President has called for action, the House of Representatives has already acted and now it's time for the Senate to pass bipartisan legislation, said Nancy LeaMond, AARP executive vice president and chief advocacy and engagement officer.

America's Health Insurance Plans said before the SOTU that the problem is the price, and that big pharma is to blame.

Insulin has been around for about a century, and the original patent for insulin was sold for just $1 with the hope of making the medicine available for everyone who needs it, AHIP said. But drug makers have increasingly upped the price, such as a 250% price increase between 2007 and 2017 for a vial of long-acting insulin and a 750% price increase over the past 15 years for a vial of a short-acting insulin.

Several health insurers have rolled out new programs to cap the out-of-pocket cost of insulin to their members to $25, AHIP said.

"Big Pharma alone controls their prices--and they alone can lower them for Americans today," AHIP said.

Doctors at the Committee to Protect Medicare said Trump promised to protect Medicare and Medicaid, yet his Administration's January 30 proposal to change Medicaid funding to block grants would cap funds, thereby limiting treatment and care, according to Executive Director Dr. Rob Davidson.

Trump's 2020 budget slashes Medicare, he said.

The president promised to protect Americans who have pre-existing conditions, yet Trump supports a lawsuit that could dismantle the law, Davidson said.

"As he has done repeatedly for years, President Trump used his State of the Union speech to once again whitewash his actual record on healthcare. The administration's policies have reduced coverage for millions of Americans and threaten protections for people with preexisting conditions," said Davidson,  an emergency physician in west Michigan. 

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com