by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Donald Trump don’t agree on much. But they’ve found common ground in pushing to upend the Medicare drug benefit.
At a rally days before his resounding victory in New Hampshire, Trump grumbled about government drug spending — and called for Medicare to take over the role of negotiating drug prices from private insurers. On Tuesday, President Obama released his new budget plan, which similarly calls for Medicare to negotiate prices on biologics and other specialty drugs.
Both men claim the move would save the government money. But it won’t deliver the savings Trump and Obama claim. It will instead raise costs for seniors, deny them access to drugs and dismantle the only portion of Medicare that has cost less than government projections.
The Medicare drug benefit, known as “Part D,” leverages the power of market competition to deliver prescription drug coverage to seniors. Private insurance plans compete with one another for seniors’ business, offering different premiums, deductibles and levels of coverage. Seniors can pick the plan that best suits their needs and the government subsidizes their premiums. …
… Part D has been a resounding success. It has expanded drug coverage and cost seniors and taxpayers alike far less than expected. But Obama and Trump have never let facts get in their way. That’s why they’re both dead-set on fundamentally changing the nature of the program.