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Trump Highlights New Initiatives for Childhood Cancer, HIV in State of the Union

Laura Joszt
During his second State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted past bipartisan accomplishments, such as legislation to confront the opioid crisis, but also outlined future priorities, such as addressing the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs.
During his second State of the Union address, President Trump highlighted past bipartisan accomplishments, such as legislation to confront the opioid crisis, but also outlined future priorities, such as addressing the cost of healthcare and prescription drugs.

Trump asked Congress to pass legislation for his proposed International Pricing Index, which would allow Medicare to pay what other countries pay for certain drugs. The proposal was unveiled in October 2018, and in December 2018, more than 300 groups asked Congress to intervene and halt the plan.

While Trump emphasized that drug prices dropped in 2018, they still remain at historic highs and he noted that more must be done.

“It is unacceptable that Americans pay vastly more than people in other countries for the exact same drugs, often made in the exact same place,” he said. “This is wrong, unfair, and together we can stop it.”

Trump also said he wants more transparency in the US health system. In January, hospitals began posting prices for services as required by CMS; however there are currently no penalties for noncomplianc,e and there are no requirements on where the information should be posted.

The president said the country should “require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose real prices to foster competition and bring costs down.”

He also announced some new initiatives, including a desire to defeat HIV in the United States within 10 years. There have been remarkable advances in the fight against HIV and AIDS, and Trump said his budget will ask Congress to make a commitment to eliminate the HIV epidemic.

In addition, Trump put the spotlight on childhood cancer. First Lady Melania Trump brought 10-year-old Grace Eline as her guest to the address. Eline was diagnosed with brain cancer last year and was treated with radiation. Now, Trump is asking Congress for $500 million over the next 10 years to fund research into new therapies for childhood cancer.

After the State of the Union, Trisha Danze, president of Thea’s Star of Hope, a volunteer-based organization dedicated to improving treatment for kids with brain tumors, told The American Journal of Managed Care® in an email that the childhood cancer community was “jumping for joy” at the announcement.

While she said she is a little skeptical and is waiting to hear the detail of the plan and how it will turn new treatments into a reality, Trump’s announcement could represent a turning point in awareness and funding.

“Whether you support Trump or not, the power of the leader of the free world talking about the lack of new treatments and the need for funding research, specifically for childhood cancer, is shedding a light on this disease like never before,” Danze said.

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