President-elect Donald Trump has taken on pharmaceutical companies, saying he wants them to bid for the federal government’s business and allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. But Rep. Tom Price, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, didn’t exactly echo those policy prescriptions on Wednesday, saying instead he would be “working with the president and then carrying out his wishes.”
That was the Georgia Republican’s response to a question from Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) about whether he would work toward repealing laws that block Medicare from negotiating drug prices. Price has a history of opposing that policy change, which Trump has called for as recently as Jan. 14 in an interview with The Washington Post.
“I think we need to find solutions to the challenges of folks gaining access to needed medication, and it may be that one of those is changing the way that negotiations are structured,” Price said at Wednesday’s hearing held by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Earlier in the hearing, Price told Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) that he would work with Congress on drug pricing issues more generally, after Sanders asked Price to commit to working to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices. Sanders, who has been a loud voice against rising drug costs, told reporters on Jan. 17 that he plans to introduce legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate drug costs, according to The Hill.
“You have my commitment to work with you and others to make certain that the drug pricing is reasonable and that individuals across this land have access to the medications that they need,” Price said.
“Wasn’t quite the answer to the question that I asked,” Sanders said.