CCHF Invited to the White House

May 16, 2018

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An invitation to the White House came last week. I accepted. On May 11, President Trump made an announcement in the Rose Garden about lowering drug prices. Here’s a short play by play for you, our supporters, the people who keep our organization on the front lines and operating on behalf of your health freedom every day.

The setting was beautiful. The day was lovely—blue skies, sunshine, green grass, flowers everywhere. There were men and women in dark and white uniforms directing us at every turn: through security, into the lobby, through the garden room, out the door, through the Kennedy Garden, onto the circle drive, past the six massive pillars on the front of the White House, into the Rose Garden, where the band (dressed in red jackets and navy pants) was playing between the roses and the giant magnolia tree planted by President Andrew Jackson (and soon to be cut down), and cups of ice water were being served. It was over 80 degrees and we were all sitting in the blazing sun. A welcome but all too infrequent breeze wandered by.

Sitting in the front row were FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, CMS Administrator Seema Verma (photo), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilber Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer and U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (TX) and Orrin Hatch (UT). Congressmen Michael Burgess (TX), Buddy Carter (GA), and Greg Gianforte (MT), and Andrew Bremberg, assistant to the president and director of the Domestic Policy Council for President Trump, were also present.  

The attendees, not counting the phalanx of news reporters and cameramen that surrounded us, were about 150. On the grass, facing the West Wing and the Oval Office were two sets of 10 chairs in seven rows separated by an aisle. I was seated in the third row on the right side, three chairs in from center. Our row was behind two rows of department heads and members of Congress and the U.S. Senate. Immediately in front of me was Ivanka Trump sitting in a chair with a “Reserved” name tag. The chair with a name tag for Kellyanne Conway was next to her, but it remained empty (see below). 
At about 2:00 PM, we were asked to sit down and the door from the Oval Office was opened. And we all waited in silence, until the president was announced and the band began to play. President Trump and HHS Secretary Alex Azar walked through the door and to the podium. In the screenshot below, you can see me in a white jacket in the lower left corner.
President Trump’s remarks included the following proposals:
  • “Eliminating the middlemen” (Pharmaceutical benefit management companies (PBMs) collect $200 billion/year to manage prescription services)
  • End the “double-dealing that allows the middleman to pocket rebates and discounts that should be passed on to consumers and patients.”
  • Rapid approval of generic medications
  • End Obamacare’s twisted incentives that encourage higher drug prices
  • Negotiate lower prices for drugs in Medicare Part D
  • Ban the “Pharmacist Gag Rule” which prohibits pharmacists from telling patients that they can save money by paying cash rather than using their insurance card.
  • End exploitation of drug patents that “protect unfair monopolies”
  • Speed approval of over-the-counter medications
  • Make other countries pay more for their medications so that Americans will pay less than they do today to subsidize the cost of drug research and development. 
Trump concluded, “We will work every day to ensure all Americans have access to the quality, affordable medication they need and deserve. And we will not rest until the job of unfair pricing is a total victory for the USA.” After Secretary Azar spoke for a few minutes about “private sector competition and private sector negotiation” and the Trump “Blueprint” released that day, the two turned around and headed back into the White House. 
I talked with federal officials and organization leaders already acquainted with CCHF, took a few more photos, and was introduced to officials in the administration I didn’t yet know. Then it was time to go and we headed for the gates.
Thank you for supporting CCHF. Our message is being heard at the highest levels of government—and it’s only because of your financial support that we were there! 
Please consider a gift of support for our work today. I’d be most grateful. Send a check to the address below, give us a call (651-646-8935), or just click here to donate!
For freedom’s cause,
Twila Brase, RN, PHN
President and Co-founder