Berniecare: Bernie Sanders Wants to Help Donald Trump

Photo by JONATHAN ALCORN/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump just cracked the textbook for the first time this semester. And oh, is he confused.

On Monday, the president of the United States, remembering he promised he’d get around to addressing gargantuan task of fixing America’s desiccated healthcare system, asked for an extension. Healthcare, you see, is “unbelievably complex,” Trump said. “Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated.”

Let’s forget for a second that someone at the helm of a diversified international corporation is intimidated by actuarial tables and flummoxed by interstate trade. (Let’s also not forget that Donald Trump appears still closely involved with the Trump Organization, which is hosting foreign dignitaries at its new Washington hotel in a flagrant, possibly impeachable violation of the emoluments clause). At least one facet of healthcare in America and its stupendous cost is incredibly simple, and can be explained in terms Trump uses on the daily: Americans are getting screwed by a terrible deal.

As it happens, the biggest foreign threat to the order of things in the United States is not methamphetamine from Mexico or heroin from Afghanistan. It’s cheap prescription pharmaceutical drugs from Canada.

Americans spend $300 billion a year on prescription drugs, far more than any other country. Drugs are much more expensive here because Americans can’t easily (or legally) buy drugs on a global marketplace. As a result, evil American pharmaceutical executives are able to profiteer by jacking up the price at will, enabling them to buy one-of-a-kind Wu-Tang records or whatever, while sick people choose between food or medicine.

That’s not sad, it’s criminal.

To Trump’s rescue on Tuesday came Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democratic leaders in Congress with a relatively simple plan to end this losing deal. Under a bill introduced on Tuesday, American consumers would be able to buy prescription drugs from Canadian pharmacies, the Hill reported.

In fact, “[t]he president’s support for these ideas have been so clear that I’m tempted to introduce a bill in the House named ‘The Donald Trump Drug Affordability Act,’” said sly jokester Rep. Elijah Cummings, who is sponsoring accompanying legislation in the House. “I’m sure he would like that.”

If he is serious about fixing the healthcare problem, Trump should gobble up this plan like he does Propecia, because it would allow him to meet a campaign promise and allow Americans to start winning again. Big league.

One of the chief Republican complaints about the Affordable Care Act is the staggering out-of-pocket costs for various procedures and prescriptions. A solution offered for this is often interstate competition—allowing insurance carriers to shop plans across state lines.

If the same theory were applied to drug purchasing agreements, opening up the domestic marketplace dominated by domestic companies to foreign competition, the savings would be stupendous.

Drugs are “substantially cheaper” in countries including Canada, India and the United Kingdom, thanks largely to “the most costly form of [trade] protectionism plaguing our country today,” as the normally conservative Economic Policy Institute put it, and the cost is obvious.

Current American trade policies keep drug prices high, a bargain that transparently benefits the rich at the cost of the poor. Americans spend $300 billion on prescription drugs every year, a deal that only benefits “shareholders and corporate managers of pharmaceutical companies, some of the most profitable corporations in the world,” the EPI wrote.

Of course, Sanders’ plan will run into strong opposition from the pharmaceutical industry, which is already claiming that Canadian pharmaceutical drugs are a “tainted” supply rife with “counterfeit” drugs imported from (gasp) other countries, the Hill reported.

And no Republicans have yet to sign onto the bill. But as angry voters swamping Republican lawmakers’ town halls are demonstrating, the bill for bad healthcare decisions is coming due, and it may be paid in the 2018 midterms.

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