GOP lawmakers air concerns with Trump drug pricing move in meeting with health chief

Republican lawmakers who worked as doctors expressed their concerns about President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE's controversial proposal to lower drug prices with the president's health chief Thursday.

The lawmakers in the GOP Doctors Caucus questioned Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the meeting about a proposal Trump put forward in October to lower certain Medicare drug prices by tying them to lower prices paid in other countries.

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The proposal was a dramatic departure from the usual Republican position on drug prices, and drew some mild praise from Democrats.

But now GOP lawmakers are airing concerns.

“I would say that the Doc Caucus has concerns but we're happy that they came and explained the program in more detail and what their proposal is,” said Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean Bucshon Trump unveils plan to help kidney patients in push to lower health costs House Republican: Disclosing drug prices in TV ads 'doesn't help the consumer very much' GOP lawmaker has 'a lot of concerns' over coverage if ObamaCare is overturned MORE (R-Ind.), a member of the group of about a dozen GOP lawmakers who are doctors.

Bucshon said he still had concerns after the meeting. He previously called the proposal is too close to “price controls.”

Rep. Phil RoeDavid (Phil) Phillip RoeIsraeli, Palestinian business leaders seek Trump boost for investment project Mark Takano keeps using partisan tactics when legislating veterans issues Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Dole call for national unity at Heroes and History Makers event MORE (R-Tenn.), the co-chairman of the group, said the meeting gave lawmakers a chance to ask Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma questions about the proposal.

Azar and Verma explained the proposal and defended it, lawmakers said. “I think we have concerns but I think we had a lot less concerns [after the meeting],” Roe said.

The administration has argued that Medicare Part B currently essentially pays drug companies whatever price they want for their products, and that the system needs to change.  

Roe noted that the proposal is still in the preliminary stages, proving more time for input.

In a further sign of GOP concerns about Trump’s proposal, 55 conservative groups wrote a letter on Wednesday calling for the proposal to be withdrawn, warning of “price controls.”