January 31, 2019

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20500

Dear President Trump:

On behalf of the millions of members and supporters of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, I am writing to ask you to include in your 2019 State of the Union address your re-commitment to fully protecting Medicare from spending cuts and allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate prescription drug prices to provide beneficiaries and the government a better deal.

During your 2016 presidential campaign, you told voters that your administration would not cut Medicare and that you would bring drug prices down by negotiating with the major pharmaceutical companies.  This was encouraging news to our members. However, your administration’s FY 2019 budget recommended that the program be cut by $500 billion over ten years.  These cuts would reduce payments to Medicare providers and suppliers, which in turn could affect the coverage that is available to Medicare beneficiaries.

Half of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2016 had annual incomes below $26,200.  Yet Medicare households spent over two times more than the average American household on out-of-pocket health care costs.  Older Americans should not have to choose between paying for health care, food or utilities. This argues for expanding Medicare to fill in coverage gaps, not for cutting benefits.

Although your proposals on drug costs would help insulate seniors from excessive out-of-pocket drug costs, they generally do not address the underlying cost of drugs.  That’s why I urge you to unequivocally support legislation that would provide the HHS Secretary the authority to negotiate the best price available for drugs purchased on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries, especially for those who are low-income.

During your State of the Union address, the National Committee urges you to embrace these principles and reaffirm your campaign promises by rejecting proposals to cut Medicare and by supporting legislation that would permit the HHS Secretary to negotiate prescription drug prices.


Max Richtman
President and CEO