Clinton unloads on insurers, big pharma

Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonAmbassador's sister: I don't blame Clinton for Benghazi Clinton to Trump supporters: 'Don’t look for easy answers' Seven key findings in the Benghazi report MORE launched a full-on assault against pharmaceutical and insurance giants on Tuesday as she promised to limit increases in drug costs nationwide.

Speaking in Iowa, the Democratic presidential candidate accused pharmaceutical companies of “price gouging” and “profiteering” while millions of people struggle with skyrocketing healthcare prices.

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“Pharmaceutical companies just bet on the fact that desperate people will find some way to pay for [these drugs],” she said in the final event of a three-state tour on healthcare.

“At the same time that this is happening, top pharmaceutical companies are receiving billions of dollars of tax relief every single year and earning billions of dollars in profits. Many of them spend more money on marketing and advertising than they do on research,” she said.

Clinton also flung attacks at the health insurance sector, accusing companies of "keeping the savings [from ObamaCare] for themselves". 

“I think the insurance companies need to be put on notice that they need to help people afford the medical care they need, not make it increasingly expensive and difficult to access,” she declared to applause. And later in the speech, Clinton blamed insurance companies for "not doing what they should to do help people get mental health[care]."

In a speech pledging to focus on “kitchen table” issues for the middle class, Clinton said she would the rising costs of prescription drugs and out-of-pocket healthcare costs. Both are policy areas that, she acknowledged, were largely left out of the Affordable Care Act.

After months of giving ObamaCare policies nothing but praise, Clinton criticized the law for the first time Tuesday, while revealing some details about how she plans to go beyond it.

“The cost of prescription drugs went up by over 12 percent last year. Meanwhile, other out-of-pocket costs are growing to, and insurance companies just keep raising the premiums,” she said. “For a lot of families, it doesn’t feel that healthcare costs are coming under control."

Rising costs have also become a rallying cry of Clinton’s rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFormer Gillibrand aide wins NY House primary Sanders-backed candidate wins NY House primary The Trail 2016: 11 hours, 800 pages, 0 changed minds MORE (I-Vt.), who recently introduced legislation targeting the “skyrocketing” costs of drugs.

Like Sanders, Clinton on Tuesday pledged to give Medicare bargaining power over drug prices — a position she also adopted in her 2008 campaign.

The former secretary of State also called for a monthly cap of $250 on covered medications, a policy several states including California have adopted. She also promised to bring “more generics” to the market.

Clinton’s proposals, which were outlined on her website earlier Tuesday, have already drawn a stinging rebuke from big pharma and the insurance sector.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America released a statement warning that her proposal would eliminate jobs, risk patient safety and halt investment in new cures for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer.

The leading insurance company lobbying group, America's Health Insurance Plans, also slammed Clinton for her proposals, which it said "will not make drug prices more affordable." 

Clinton offered a counterattack during her speech, arguing, “I want to both protect consumers and promote innovation, while putting an end to profiteering. We can achieve a win-win.”