Dem chairman Cummings meets with Trump health chief to discuss drug prices

Dem chairman Cummings meets with Trump health chief to discuss drug prices
© Greg Nash

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsMaryland postpones primary over coronavirus fears Maryland governor: 'Simply not enough supplies' on hand to tackle coronavirus Meadows joins White House facing reelection challenges MORE (D-Md.) met with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Tuesday to discuss bipartisan ways to work together to lower drug prices.

“He pledged that he wants to work with me,” Cummings told reporters after the meeting. “We have similar goals but the main goal is bringing down the price of drugs. We agreed that we would do everything we could to work together.”

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Lowering drug prices is a potential area of bipartisan agreement in Congress as both Democrats and President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump orders US troops back to active duty for coronavirus response Trump asserts power to decide info inspector general for stimulus gives Congress Fighting a virus with the wrong tools MORE have railed against drug companies for their high prices. Still, finding agreement on specific legislation has been difficult.

Cummings did not name any specific legislation that the two agreed on in the meeting.

“He's aware of our legislation,” Cummings said. “We are headed for the same goals, but not necessarily the exact same legislation, so I've got to tell you I came out of the meeting feeling hopeful that this is something that we can do on a bipartisan basis.”

Cummings, along with Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersHillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike Overnight Energy: Court upholds Trump repeal of Obama fracking rule | Oil price drop threatens fracking boom | EPA eases rules on gasoline sales amid coronavirus The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders pushes on in 2020 race MORE (I-Vt.) and other Democrats introduced sweeping legislation to lower drug prices last week, including allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and importing drugs from abroad.

Trump has expressed support for both of those ideas in the past, in a break from the usual Republican position, but his administration does not currently support them, to the frustration of many Democrats.

Cummings said he did not specifically ask Azar to support the legislation he unveiled last week. “We share the same goal so that was good enough for me,” Cummings said.

“Secretary Azar and the Trump Administration appreciate Chairman Cummings’s leadership in calling attention to the issue of skyrocketing drug costs,” said Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for Azar. “The Administration is committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to accomplish what was set forth in the President’s blueprint on drug prices, to make sure Americans see lower prices and reduced out-of-pocket costs.”