Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva flew up to Washington on Friday to take part in President Trump’s signing of four executive orders that he said would help lower prescription drug costs.
Trump said the orders would pass “giant discounts” to consumers and cut out the “middlemen making a fortune,” Trump said. “I can tell you, I probably know them very well. I probably see them in Palm Beach.”
The second order is similar to a bill signed by DeSantis last year that allowed Florida to start importing drugs from Canada if Congress were to approve it, which it hasn’t done.
“When we started the legislative session in Florida in 2019, our speaker of the House, Jose Oliva, here with me, he had a big healthcare agenda,” DeSantis said. “He really wanted to do something big on prescription drugs. ... But I told Jose, ‘Listen, we’ve got to find a way where we will actually be able to accomplish something. I don’t want to just throw a flare up there and then virtue signal that we’re doing some about drugs, and nothing works.‘”
Trump said the idea was “something that Ron and I have been discussing from the time Ron got elected, and I’ve been wanting to do it. ... So you’re going to be getting massive drug savings in Florida and other states. And we’ve had numerous states that wanted to do it. Ron really was at the forefront.”
DeSantis told Trump, “not everyone was in favor of you doing it. You had a lot of people saying don’t do it. But you were laser-focused on lowering drug prices for people, particularly our seniors in the state of Florida. ... The people of Florida want to thank you for siding with us on this.”
It is still unclear what effect the law has had on drug prices, and at the time it was passed Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith asked, “What exactly is Canada doing to keep their prescription costs down? Well, the government sets the price of the drugs. Not Big Pharma.”
Trump also went on an extended, off-the-cuff riff about Medicare being unable to negotiate for the cost of drugs.
“Can you believe that?” Trump said. “...We’re not allowed, were restricted by Congress from negotiating the price of drugs. Can you imagine? You say, ‘I want to get a better price?' ‘I’m sorry, sir. You’re not allowed to do that. That’s illegal.' What kind of a system is that? You think the world looks at us and said, Where the hell did these people come from?”
However, Trump opposed a 2019 Democratic bill that would allow the government to negotiate drug prices and vowed to veto it. The White House called the bill a “price-fixing mechanism” that would “compromise the health of Americans by dramatically reducing the incentive to bring innovative therapeutics to market.”
Trump also praised DeSantis, saying, “One thing I can tell you about Ron, he handles pressure well.”
©2020 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)
Visit The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.) at www.OrlandoSentinel.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.