Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

Suozzi, Schakowsky Lead 23 of Their Colleagues Calling on the Trump Administration to Suspend Last Minute Drug Gift Card Stunt and Halt Announcement of the Proposal

October 22, 2020
Press Release
Proposal would take $8 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund

Today, Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-NY) and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) led over 20 of their colleagues in a letter urging the Trump Administration to suspend its plan to send $200 “drug discount cards” to seniors and halt their plan to send letters announcing the proposal before November’s election.

 

Under the proposal from the White House, $8 billion would be taken from the Medicare Trust Fund, which covers vital health care services for tens of millions of Americans. However, the plan would do nothing to address the reason why prescription drugs are almost four times more expensive in the United States than in other countries: the federal government is prohibited from negotiating with Big Pharma. The plan, which Trump Administration officials are rushing to finalize this month, is a transparent attempt to use taxpayer dollars to influence the outcome of the election. According to reporting, the Administration plans to send out letters to seniors before Election Day announcing the proposal to gain political support.

 

“According to recent reporting, you and other members of the Trump Administration have spent the days following the President’s announcement scrambling to implement the plan prior to Election Day.  Taking $8 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund, which finances vital health care services for tens of millions of elderly and disabled Americans, to fund a political stunt is unacceptable,” the lawmakers wrote. 

 

The lawmakers continued, “President Trump has repeatedly promised and failed to lower prescription drug prices for the American people. In January 2016, then-candidate Trump said that Medicare could save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. In January 2017, President-Elect Trump even went as far as to say that pharmaceutical companies are ‘getting away with murder’. He never followed through.”

 

Last year, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. This legislation would allow the federal government to negotiate with Big Pharma and would lower prescription drug prices for tens of millions of Americans. However, despite his repeated campaign promises, President Trump opposes H.R. 3 and has not proposed a meaningful alternative.

 

Additional signers of the letter include: Congressman Jimmy Gomez (D-CA); Congressman Danny K. Davis (D-IL); Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA); Congressman John Larson (D-CT); Congressman Dwight Evans (D-PA); Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-IL); Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY); Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS); Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY); Congressman Gwen Moore (D-WI); Congresswoman Judy Chu, PhD (D-CA); Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL); Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA); Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT); Congressman Tony Cardenas (D-CA); Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR); Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA); Congressman Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE); Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL); Congressman Debra Haaland (D-NM); Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL); Congressman David Cicilline (D-RI); and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL).

 

Full text of the letter is below and can also be viewed attached. PDF icon 10.21.20_ Drug Discount Cards Letter_vFinal.pdf

 

 

Dear Administrator Verma,

 

 We write to express our strong opposition to the President’s transparent attempt to use your office and taxpayer dollars to influence the upcoming presidential election. On September 24, President Trump announced a plan to send taxpayer-funded “drug discount cards” to Medicare beneficiaries in an effort to supposedly help seniors afford their prescription drugs. This $8 billion proposal would provide a subsidy to the pharmaceutical industry but would do nothing to lower prescription drug prices.

 

 According to recent reporting, you and other members of the Trump Administration have spent the days following the President’s announcement scrambling to implement the plan prior to Election Day. Taking $8 billion from the Medicare Trust Fund, which finances vital health care services for tens of millions of elderly and disabled Americans, to fund a political stunt is unacceptable.

 

President Trump has repeatedly promised and failed to lower prescription drug prices for the American people. In January 2016, then-candidate Trump said that Medicare could save hundreds of billions of dollars by negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.  In January 2017, President-Elect Trump even went as far as to say that pharmaceutical companies are “getting away with murder”.  He never followed through.

 

In December 2019, the House of Representatives passed legislation to empower the Secretary of Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prescription drug prices. H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, would:

 

  • Allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices, making those lower prices available to those on Medicare and those with private insurance;
  •  Stop pharmaceutical companies from charging Americans an average of nearly four times more for the same drugs that they sell in other countries for less;
  • Create an annual limit on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries;
  • Add dental, hearing, and vision benefits to Medicare; and
  • Increase the number of seniors who qualify for financial assistance to pay for prescription drugs

 

President Trump opposes H.R. 3, and has not proposed any alternative plan that would allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices. Now, with less than a month to go before Election Day, you are pursuing a desperate, taxpayer-funded plan that would do nothing to address the underlying reason why prescription drug prices are so much higher in the United States than in other countries: the federal government is prohibited from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies. 

 

We urge the Trump Administration to finally support a plan that would allow the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices and to cancel your $200 gift card stunt.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.