Trump Health Care Strategy: Pretend to Have a Plan

Julien Behal/PA Wire via ZUMA

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Apparently Donald Trump plans to take his usual sober and considered approach to health care policy during campaign season:

White House advisers, scrambling to create a health-care agenda for President Trump to promote on the campaign trail, are meeting at least daily with the aim of rolling out a measure every two to three weeks until the 2020 election.

….Some, however, are doubtful a flurry of executive orders and new regulations would have an immediate effect on consumers’ pocketbooks. What is clear is that the approach, which includes White House support for a bipartisan Senate bill to cap Medicare drug price increases to the rate of inflation, is putting congressional Republicans in a tough spot: Embrace Trump’s agenda and abandon conservative precepts about interference in the marketplace, or buck the president on one of his top priorities.

….One lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described being stunned at a recent White House meeting when Domestic Policy Council Director Joe Grogan said the administration would not let Democrats run to the president’s left on lowering the prices of prescription medicines. In another tense meeting, top pharmaceutical executives were told bluntly “it wasn’t in the industry’s best interests” to block the bipartisan Senate bill backed by Trump. If it failed, they were told, they’d see “the president of the United States negotiating with Nancy Pelosi [on allowing the government to negotiate drug prices in Medicare],” said a person familiar with the meeting.

Uh huh. That’s a tough one. Should Republicans blithely abandon their principles and do what Trump wants or—or what?

Of course, this isn’t a matter of sitting back and letting Trump attack brown or black or yellow people. This is a matter of by god interference with corporate interests, which really does put Republicans in a tough spot. They’re perfectly happy to let Trump tear into America’s oldest racial wounds, but reducing the profits of pharmaceutical companies by a few points? That’s a genuine chin scratcher. What’s a Republican to do?

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