Senate focuses on prescription drug prices, health care for rural communities

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MIAMI – AUGUST 07: Rosemary Petty, a Publix Supermarket pharmacy technician, counts out a prescription of antibiotic pills August 7, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Senators are considering a series of bills aimed at bringing down the price of prescription drugs and improving access to health care in rural communities. Senators said the “Lower Health Care Costs Act of 2019” includes bills aimed at reducing the price of prescription drugs by increasing competition and expanding telehealth. 

President Trump said Americans are paying too much for prescription drugs. 

“Why should other nations pay much less than us?” said President Trump.

On Friday, the president told reporters he’s planning to issue an executive order on drug pricing to prevent U.S. consumers from being overcharged.

“We are working on a ‘favored-nations clause’ where we pay whatever the lowest nation’s price is,” Trump said. Lawmakers said the rising cost of health care is hurting U.S. families and senators are also considering solutions.

Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and members of the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee said part of their plan includes bringing down prescription drug prices and expanding the use of technology.

“Dealing with expanding telehealth infrastructure to help us better deliver health care in rural areas,” Kaine said.

Senator Kaine said the proposed legislation includes efforts to promote education for doctors through video conferences. But Kaine said the bill does not set aside funding to improve critical broadband service.

Lawmakers want to include money for broadband service as part of the $2 trillion infrastructure deal. But talks between the White House and Democratic leaders crumbled weeks ago.

“I would love rural broadband, we are working on it and I would love to have the Democrats come back and talk about infrastructure,” Trump said.

The president hasn’t given a timeline on when infrastructure negotiations will resume, but both the administration and Democrats say lowering health care costs for consumers is a top priority.

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