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Trump ally Meadows says president wants to work with House Democrats to lower drug prices

Key Points
  • Meadows is chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.
  • He was on an initial list of four people Trump was considering to replace former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to the Associated Press
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) talks with reporters in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows says President Donald Trump told him in a call Monday night that he wants to work with House Democrats to lower high prescription drug costs in the U.S.

In a brief exchange between Meadows and House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., at a hearing Tuesday, the North Carolina Republican said Trump wanted Cummings to know Trump's "serious about working in a bipartisan way to lower prescription drug prices."

"I have a personal note that I wanted to convey to you from the president of the United States," Meadows said at the House Oversight Committee hearing on drug prices. "He wanted me to make sure that you knew that on this particular subject, not only is he serious, he's serious about working in a bipartisan way to lower prescription drug prices and when I spoke to him last night he wanted to make sure I conveyed that to you."

Cummings responded by saying, "We are willing, able and ready to work with them to get them done and thank you."

Meadows, chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was on an initial list of four people Trump was considering to replace former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, according to the Associated Press.

The committee held a hearing Tuesday on why prescription drug prices are high in the U.S. Most lawmakers across the aisle agree drug prices are too high, but both parties have differed on their approach.

Cummings earlier this month said he sent letters to 12 drugmakers seeking detailed information and documents about the companies' pricing practices. Cummings, along with Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Ca., also introduced legislation aimed at lowering drug costs.

The legislation would permit the Department Health and Human Services to negotiate lower prices for drugs under Medicare Part D, the federal health program that helps beneficiaries pay for self-administered medicines. It would also allow Americans to import lower priced drugs from abroad and peg the price of prescription drugs in the U.S. to the median price in five major countries — Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Japan.

Trump's administration has also vowed to lower drug costs. The administration has several proposals that would offer lower out-of-pocket costs for American consumers, which include changes to Medicare Part D and Part B. Medicare is the government insurer for the elderly and disabled.

Democrats, who regained control of the House this month, listed lowering prescription drug costs as one of their top priorities. Spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. increased to $333.4 billion in 2017, according to the latest data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Democrats have placed their focus on the pharmaceutical industry, which sells drugs at higher prices in the U.S. than abroad.

Pharmaceutical companies say price increases have been modest and argue lowering drug profits would could hinder the industry in making investments towards new and innovative cures.