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Florida gets a nod as Donald Trump unveils orders to lower drug prices

President Trump said Gov. Ron DeSantis has been at the forefront of drug importation.

Florida’s prescription drug cost agenda reached the White House Friday as President Donald Trump signed a series of executive orders to lower drug prices.

Four executive orders will attempt to tackle drug importation, affordable insulin, a rebate rule and — if deemed necessary a month later — addressing the most-favored nation clause in health care. Those orders were “unrigging the system,” the president said, adding that “some very rich people are not going to like me very much today.”

Trump credited Gov. Ron DeSantis, who joined the President on stage for a brief thank you, for being at the forefront of the order green-lighting drug importation.

In February, DeSantis introduced an importation program allowing Floridians to purchase FDA-approved drugs from Canada. That program awaited federal approval, now cleared through the drug importation executive order.

“This could’ve been done for almost 20 years, and it hasn’t been done, so you’re the one who got it done,” he said.

DeSantis also gave a nod to House Speaker José Oliva, also in attendance, for prioritizing health care reforms. Oliva spearheaded scope of practice expansion and other reforms, leading the Governor to gift the Speaker a baseball bat with the inscription “slayer of the health care industrial complex” at the culmination of the 2020 Session.

“We’ve got to find a way where we will actually be able to accomplish something,” the Governor said he told Oliva. “I don’t want to just throw a flare up there and then virtue signal that we’re doing something about drugs and then nothing works.”

The Governor presented Trump with the plan, but it’s reality was the result of “presidential leadership,” he added.

Last year, Trump instructed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to lay the groundwork for the drug importation measure.

The Secretary said drug price inflation has stopped under the Trump administration after the President outlined goals for ending “foreign free-riding,” improving how government programs purchase drugs, lowering out-of-pocket payments and dropping overall drug prices.

Two other executive orders going into effect immediately would help drive down the cost of insulin and EpiPens through the Federal Health Centers and limit influence the middlemen in drug pricing.

“Pharmacy benefit managers and people are just bilking Medicare patients with these high drug prices while they pocket gigantic discounts,” the President said.

Trump also hit the nation’s “so-called allies” and “welfare states” like Canada and Germany for paying lower drug prices. If negotiations didn’t result in lower costs through Medicare, the executive order would kick in Aug. 24.

“We’re paying to reduce drug prices in a socialist country. How does that work?” Trump said.

Republicans would present a forthcoming health care bill the President said will be “very complete.”

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz also attended the ceremonial signing.

With DeSantis’ approval rating collapsing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor is hoping to right the ship as he approaches the halfway point of his first term.

Trump’s Friday nod comes after the President canceled the Jacksonville portion of the Republican National Convention Thursday. Trump initially moved the convention from Charlotte, North Carolina, because the state’s Democratic Governor, Roy Cooper, could not guarantee a robust convention. But with the pandemic not subsiding in Florida and a month left till the convention, Trump pulled the plug, citing health concerns.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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