Remarks by President Trump at Signing of S. 2553, Know the Lowest Price Act, and S. 2554, Patient Right to Know Drug Price Act

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release October 10, 2018

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

AT SIGNING OF S. 2553, KNOW THE LOWEST PRICE ACT

AND S. 2554, PATIENT RIGHT TO KNOW DRUG PRICE ACT

Roosevelt Room

1:49 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much everybody. This is a very important day
for our country in a lot of ways. But before we begin, we have another important
subject. I want to give an update on the really devastating storm bearing down
on Florida. It’s moving rapidly, and it’s at a very high level. Some are saying
it’s one of the biggest storms ever to hit our country.

It built very rapidly, very quickly. And I’ve just concluded a briefing with the
Secretary of Homeland Security and the Administrator of FEMA, and we are
watching Hurricane Michael. It’s just hitting shore now. Winds are going up to
close to 200 miles an hour. You don’t hear about that. Category 4 — you don’t
hear about that.

This is the most powerful recorded storm to strike the Florida Panhandle ever,
and it will bring with it anywhere from 150-mile to almost 200-mile-an-hour
winds. The storm surges could be up to 15 feet. Additional rainfall could also
produce flash flooding at the highest levels.

We’ve been in constant communications with Governor Rick Scott of Florida and
with all of the authorities in the various states. We’re very well prepared for
it. Massive amounts of food and we have first responders all over. The
electrical companies are staged and ready to go in immediately after the storm
leaves. Thousands of people, hundreds of trucks — actually, over a thousand
trucks.

So we have large amounts of food and water and everything else that you need.
And that will go — immediately be rushed in as the storm leaves.

Federal resources are on the ground at every level. And so we are absolutely
ready. It’s a top priority, and the single top priority is the saving of life.
We have moved a lot of people off the area and out of the path of the storm, but
people remain; some people just don’t want to go. And we have no choice but to
let them stay.

It’s going to be a big one. The winds are going to be so tremendous. This will
be a lot of water, but this will be tremendous wind. And a lot of those houses
aren’t built for winds like that. We haven’t seen winds like that.

Florida and Georgia will bear the brunt of the storm. However, Hurricane
Michael, as it’s called, is expected to bring very, very considerable rainfall
to North and South Carolina, in addition. And I just left there, and they —
they had a tremendous storm, as you know — Florence. And that was a heavy water
storm. More so than the wind, it was the water. And now, unfortunately, North
and South Carolina are going to be getting some additional water as it dries
out, and here comes some more water.

So it’s a tough situation. But we’re with them. We’re with Georgia. We’re with
Florida. We’re with Alabama. Everybody that’s going to be hit, we have covered.
And I just say God bless everyone because it’s going to be a rough one. It’s
going to be a very dangerous one.

My administration will continue to provide updates and information as it becomes
available.

We are — we’re here today on a very different subject, and that’s the issue of,
really, to me, vital importance; it’s been from day one of the administration.
It’s the wellbeing of every American. The price of prescription drugs — it’s
way out of whack. It’s way too high. I’ve been talking about it for a long time,
long before I ever decided to run for President.

You look at prices in our country, and for the exact same drug, in other
countries, it’s much lower. Exact same — made in the same plant by the same
company. And I said, “What’s going on?” We have middleman problems. We have a
lot of other problems. Well, we’re ending many of those problems today. And
we’re going to end them.

Based on what we’re signing today — two bills — we’ll be able to do additional
things, Mr. Secretary, over the coming, actually, months — as opposed to years.
And we’re going to see drug prices not only not go up, but come down.

So today, I am thrilled to sign two bills that will lower the cost of
prescription drugs. It’s the Know the Lowest Price Act of 2018 and the Patient
Right to Know Drug Prices Act. And, obviously, based on the name, you can tell
that this gives people knowledge as to prices at different locations — where to
buy the drugs. That will have an immediate impact, too.

It’s called the law of supply of demand. Pretty simple. But we didn’t have that.
They didn’t want to have that. A lot of people didn’t want to have that. But now
we have it, and it’s going to really drive prices.

Earlier this year, I released our drug pricing blueprint, setting out a new
agenda to drive down the drug prices for all Americans. Within a week of
announcing the blueprint, my administration began to crack down on so-called
“gag clauses” in Medicare Part D plans. You all know what that is. These clauses
prevent pharmacists from telling patients about more affordable options for
prescription drugs.

Today, Congress is building on my administration’s actions with legislation —
very strong legislation — to completely end these unjust gag clauses once and
for all. Our great citizens deserve to know the lowest price available at our
pharmacies, and now that is what they will be getting. They’ll be able to see
pricing. They’ll be able to see where they should go. And as they start leaving
certain pharmacies, those pharmacies will be dropping their prices.

I’d like to thank Senator Susan Collins for her incredible leadership on this
legislation. And I haven’t seen you in a few days. (Laughter.) I want to also
thank you for some of the most beautiful words. It was incredible. Admired by
everybody. Thank you, Susan. Really amazing. Thank you very much.

And I would also like to recognize Senator Lamar Alexander, my friend; Senator
Bill Cassidy, my friend; Senator Debbie Stabenow, who I don’t know, but someday
she’ll be a friend. (Laughter.) And somebody that’s really worked hard — I’ve
heard this for a long time — Representative Buddy Carter. Really worked —
thank you, Buddy.

Also, of course, I’d like to thank Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex
Azar. Extraordinary person. And he knows the industry better than anybody
because he was very successful in the industry.

Only 100 days after releasing my drug pricing blueprint, 15 drug companies
reduced their list prices, rolled back price increases, or froze their prices
for the rest of the year. And I think you probably remember a month ago when I
called — at the request of Alex Azar, I called Pfizer, Novartis, a couple of
others. And they had announced drug price increases — fairly substantial. And I
said, “Can’t do that. Can’t do that. We’re going down. We’re not going up.”

And that’s probably when I first realized the power of presidency because they
all ended that increase. (Laughter.) You saw that, Bill. You’ve never seen that
one before.

But they all said, “Sir, we’re not going to increase.” And they put out notices
that the increase will not take effect. And I said, “Boy, this is a powerful
position.” (Laughter.)

But it was really at the behest of the Secretary. And we’ve kept them down, but
we’re now going to watch them go actually down.

We’ve increased competition and reduced regulations to deliver medicine to
patients faster and cheaper.

We’ve massively sped up the FDA approval process. Last year, the FDA approved
more than 1,000 low-cost generics — the most in its history; never done
anything like that — saving America almost $9 billion in the first year of my
administration. It’s a very important thing for us. And I can tell you, this has
been a priority from day one.

We took action to stop hospitals from overcharging seniors on Medicare, which
will save them hundreds of millions of dollars on drug payments in this year
alone.

We’ve given Medicare Part D plans new tools to negotiate lower prices for more
drugs. Thanks to our actions to increase competition and drive down costs,
average Medicare Part D premiums will start to substantially decline for the
second year in a row. We’ve already gotten it down a lot, but now it’s going to
go down with what we’re doing today and what we’ve done over the last couple of
months.

Further, I’ve directed my administration to confront the global freeloading of
U.S. taxpayers. Foreign countries extort lower prices from U.S. drug-makers for
their citizens, subsidized by higher cost prices for American citizens. All
research and development and everything is borne by our country, and other
countries are not asked to, you know, pick up their fair share. It’s called
“welcome to the game.” Because on — whether it’s trade or military or so many
other things, they do the same thing. But it will all stop.

We are also taking dramatic action to make health insurance more affordable.
We’re allowing Americans to pool their resources to buy better healthcare for
less money through association health plans. And that’s really taken off. And
they’re getting tremendous deals — actually, even lower than we thought. It’s a
beautiful thing to see.

And we’ve expanded access to short-term plans to provide coverage options at
just a fraction of the cost of Obamacare. Much less money.

For example, according to E-Health, the average lowest premium for an Obamacare
plan for a 40-year old woman is about $4,200 per year. By contrast, the average
lowest premium for short-term coverage for this individual is about $1,300 a
year — a savings of $3,000. And I would say most people would say it would be
better. So it’s much less money, and it’s better. And people are signing up very
rapidly, as we see.

We’ve also ended the unfair individual mandate penalty, which punished Americans
because they didn’t want to pay a fortune for the Obamacare disaster. It was one
of the worst things. People are paying a lot of money for the privilege of not
paying a lot of money for bad healthcare. And we’ve ended it. It was the most
unpopular thing within Obamacare.

And thanks to our actions today — all of us, every one of us here — for the
first time since Obamacare went into effect, average premiums on the exchanges
are coming down. Through good management and lots of other things, we’re keeping
the premiums down.

We’re strongly protecting Americans with preexisting conditions. That’s a very
important thing to Republicans — preexisting conditions. We are protecting
Americans with preexisting conditions.

In less than two years, we have taken unprecedented action to make healthcare
more affordable and to give patients more choice and more control.

The American people deserve a healthcare system that works for them, not one
that takes advantage of them — and that’s what been happening. But we’re
changing that rapidly.

Along with a very Republican Congress, I am delivering on my promise to lower
drug prices. And I really do believe Democrats want to do that too, very much.
I’ve spoken to many of them, and they want to see that happen, too. Debbie, I
can tell you: They want to see it happen. Okay? I can’t put you in a position
where you want — you want them to go down too.

SENATOR STABENOW: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: We all do. If there’s anything bipartisan, it’s lowering drug
prices.

Lower premiums — we’re making healthcare really affordable and making it great.
And it’s affecting all Americans.

So tremendous progress has been made. But where we’re making very obvious
progress, and you can see it, is we are reducing prescription drugs and the cost
of prescription drugs.

So I want to thank all of the folks behind me and aside me. We have the great
Larry Kudlow, whose voice is so beautiful. For so many years, I’ve listened. And
now he’s working with us. And every time I hear those beautiful words — and
they have been beautiful.

The economy, Larry, how is it doing?

MR. KUDLOW: Couldn’t be better.

THE PRESIDENT: Good. Good. (Laughter.) Good. It is doing well. Thank you.
(Applause.) I’m going to sign this now. Thank you.

I’d like to ask the Secretary just to say a few words on the actual pricing
itself. Okay? Thank you.

SECRETARY AZAR: Well, that you very much, Mr. President. And I just want to echo
the President’s gratitude to the members of Congress and the Senate for passing
these two very important pieces of legislation that end pharmacy gag practices.

You know, what that’s about is preventing a patient from knowing they could pay
less for drugs. And now we’re giving patients the right to know. You can ask
your pharmacist, “Could I pay less for this medicine than what my insurance is
going to make me pay?” And that’s an important right.

And it shows that, with drug pricing, it’s one of the areas where we can really
work in a bipartisan way because there is significant consensus we’ve got to get
drug prices down.

And thanks to the President’s leadership, we’ve already taken major action since
the President rolled out his blueprint, brought competition and negotiation for
the first time ever to an important part of the Medicare program. We’re creating
a pathway for importation of drugs to relieve exorbitant price increases of
generic drugs and other branded, sole-source drugs here in the United States
that are off-patent.

And he’s also brought increased competition through generic approvals and
historic levels, and ended gaming by branded companies to prevent the entrance
of new generic drugs. And more on that coming soon.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. In the weeks and months ahead, we have
got so much more coming, in terms of regulatory action to bring down the price
of drugs in this country.

And the President is adamant about that. We’re going to deliver on that. And
it’s all coming to a theater near you. And thank you very much, Mr. President,
for your leadership here.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY AZAR: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. It’s been long in the making.

(The bills are signed.) (Applause.)

Okay. That’s a big — that’s a big thing. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, given the gravity of the storm, do you think it’s appropriate
to go on a campaign trip tonight, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I hear they have thousands of people lined up, and so we
are in a little bit of a quagmire. I don’t want to disappoint people. They’ve
gotten there — some people were saying that they got there last night. I
believe it starts at about 7 o’clock — going to Pennsylvania.

So we’ll probably go. Because what are you going to do? Tell thousands of people
that have been waiting there all night that we’re not coming? That’s not fair
either. So it’s a very —

But we have our — it’s a very difficult situation, actually. We have our people
ready. We are really ready in Florida, and, frankly, Georgia, Alabama, North
Carolina, South Carolina. We’re very ready. And I think it’ll be just fine.

But I can’t tell thousands of people that have been waiting — some of whom got
there literally last night, in order to be and get into an arena at 7 o’clock.
It’s hard to tell them, “By the way, you’ve been waiting all day. Go home.”
That’s not nice, either.

I’m going to give some pens out. Come on over here, Carter. (Laughter and
applause.) Lamar, thank you very much. And we have a few — come on over here,
Mr. Secretary. Who’s back here? He deserves it, huh? (Applause.)

Everybody all set over here? Thank you all very much. Appreciate it. (Applause.)

Q Mr. President, did you speak to the Saudi Crown Prince, sir? Or only staff?

THE PRESIDENT: We’re going to have a comment on that very soon. And we are very
disappointed to see what’s going on. We don’t like it. We don’t like it at all.
And we’re going to get to the bottom of it. Thank you very much. Thank you,
folks. (Applause.)

END 2:08 P.M. EDT