Conservative groups write letter opposing Trump move to lower drug prices

Conservative groups write letter opposing Trump move to lower drug prices
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A coalition of 55 conservative groups has written a letter calling on the Trump administration to withdraw a proposal to lower drug prices, warning of creating “price controls.”

The letter from the groups represents a break between President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE and conservative allies over the drug pricing proposal unveiled in October, which departs from the traditional Republican position on drug prices.

The letter warns that the administration’s proposal “imports foreign price controls into the U.S.”

It was signed by leaders of prominent conservative groups such as Americans for Tax Reform, FreedomWorks and the American Conservative Union.

“The U.S. is a world leader in research & development because the system of healthcare rejects price controls and encourages innovation,” the conservatives’ letter states.

The proposal Trump announced in October would lower prices for some drugs paid for by Medicare by tying the price to lower prices in other countries. The idea received some praise from Democrats, who also called for stronger steps, but is far different than the proposals usually favored by Republicans to let the market work out prices on its own.

Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, pushed back on the conservatives’ letter.

“Paying as much as five times what other countries pay for medications is not conservative, nor does it reflect a market-based approach to drug pricing,” she said.

She added that the assertion the proposal would harm innovation is “blatantly false.”

Trump has long attacked drug companies for their high prices and has been unveiling a series of actions, though he has been criticized by Democrats for not pushing bolder ideas like allowing Medicare to negotiate prices.

Republican lawmakers have been largely silent on Trump’s proposal, though a few have signaled support for it.

Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonGOP balks at Trump drug pricing plan Overnight Health Care: Trump officials allow states to loosen ObamaCare coverage requirements | GOP lawmakers air concerns with Trump drug price plan | Dem single-payer fight shifting to battle over Medicare 'buy-in' | US life expectancy falls GOP lawmakers air concerns with Trump drug pricing move in meeting with health chief MORE (R-Ind.) became one of the first GOP lawmakers to publicly criticize Trump’s move this month when he told The Hill the proposal is a move toward “price controls.”