Fact check: Trump lies about lowering prescription drug prices

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The steps the administration has taken have been less ambitious than those in a bill the House passed last year.

Donald Trump exaggerated his administration's efforts to lower prescription drug prices this week.

A look at one of his claims in the 2020 campaign Wednesday and how it stacks up with the facts:

HEALTH CARE

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TRUMP: "We will be substantially LOWERING Medicare Premiums and Prescription Drug Prices, bringing them down to levels that were not thought possible!" — tweet.

THE FACTS: To be clear, no massive, across-the-board cuts are in the offing for drug prices.

Efforts announced in July by Trump — such as allowing importation of medicines from countries where prices are lower — take time to roll out. It remains to be seen how much they'll move the needle on prices.

Drug importation, for example, requires regulatory actions to be taken and supply chains to be established, a tall order when the election is just two months away.

Trump has taken actions to reduce patient costs for some drugs, such as insulin, but the steps have been less ambitious than those in a bill from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the House passed last year. Her proposal would authorize Medicare to negotiate prices for expensive medications and use savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision.

She would cap Medicare recipients' out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. No limit exists on those annual costs now. The vast majority of Medicare recipients have low drug costs, but the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that in 2017, about 1 million Medicare recipients paid much more, averaging $3,200 in a year.

White House actions, while not insignificant, don't amount to the massive changes Trump brags about. One major initiative would give people on Medicare the option of limiting their out-of-pocket costs for insulin to $35 a month starting next year, by picking an "enhanced" prescription drug plan for a slightly higher premium.

Democratic attacks on Republicans efforts on the issue of health care proved successful in the 2018 midterms, when Democrats won back control of the House.