Trump calls for Medicare to negotiate drug prices

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Donald TrumpDonald TrumpRNC official: We won’t go full Trump on party platform Green Party could be election spoiler Trump courts energy industry MORE is calling for Medicare to be able to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices, a policy long backed by Democrats and opposed by Republicans. 

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The Republican presidential candidate told a crowd in Farmington, N.H., Monday night that the policy would save billions of dollars before taking a shot at pharmaceutical companies, which strongly oppose the proposal. 

"We don't do it. Why? Because of the drug companies,” Trump said, according to The Associated Press

Democratic candidates Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonRNC’s Katie Walsh: A behind-the-scenes leader Green Party could be election spoiler Trump courts energy industry MORE and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGreen Party could be election spoiler Trump courts energy industry Menendez opposing Puerto Rico debt bill MORE, as well as President Obama, have called for the same policy of letting Medicare negotiate prices, which it is currently banned from doing under the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law. The Democratic candidates have both bashed the drug companies on the stump. 

Trump has already broken from Republican orthodoxy on one other major healthcare policy this campaign, defending his past support for single-payer healthcare, long a dream of liberals. 

“As far as single payer, it works in Canada,” Trump said at a Republican debate in August. “It works incredibly well in Scotland. It could have worked in a different age.”

Trump then added that he now prefers a “private system” and proposed a standard Republican idea: allowing insurance to be sold across state lines. 

The drug pricing proposal comes at a time of increased scrutiny of pharmaceutical companies over high drug prices. There is a bipartisan investigation in the Senate Aging Committee, and the House Oversight Committee subpoenaed former drug company CEO Martin Shkreli, the poster boy for high drug prices, to testify next week. 

So far, though, the attention of congressional Republicans has largely been on a handful of companies that have dramatically hiked prices for off-patent drugs facing little market competition, and the outrage has not spread to more mainstream pharmaceutical companies. For example, letting Medicare negotiate prices still appears to have little hope in Congress.