White House rejects new media narrative that senior voters are cooling to Trump

'Nothing will stop me from fulfilling my solemn duty to America's seniors,' the president said at a Rose Garden event unveiling a proposal capping out-of-pocket Medicare costs for insulin at $35.

Last Updated:
May 27, 2020 - 3:21pm

Parrying a new media narrative that fallout from the coronavirus is hurting President Trump among seniors in key swing states, the administration is touting pro-senior policy initiatives, including a new insulin cost-savings program.

"Nothing will ever stop me from fulfilling my solemn duty to America's seniors," the president said Tuesday in the White House Rose Garden at an event unveiling a new proposal capping out-of-pocket Medicare costs for insulin at $35. "I'll use every power at my disposal to lower drug prices, and my administration will always protect Medicare and Social Security."

Earlier Tuesday, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway stressed that the insulin event was policy-focused. "We're talking prescription drugs today, not politics here at the White House," she told Just the News.

"I think that the experts estimated about $50 to be the price point in which a fair number of seniors stopped taking insulin or stop taking enough of their insulin doses as prescribed," explained Conway. "And so the $35 copay as a maximum really goes way beneath that pressure point for that reason."

Trump also used the insulin event to to draw a contrast with presidential rival Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, on the issue of drug pricing transparency, a signature issue for the Trump White House. "Price transparency, it's going to cut your costs tremendously," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden.

Trump said his administration had ushered in a "record number" of generic drugs and "reversed the price of generics for the fist time in more than 50 years," warning that prices would go up under a President Biden.

"Average basic Medicare Part D premiums dropped 13.5%, the lowest level in seven years, and we're going down very substantially from that level," Trump continued. "It's going down very, very substantially, unless you have a new administration, in which case, it'll go up very substantially."

Trump estimated that seniors would save an average of $446 on insulin costs per year under the new initiative announced Tuesday.

"We brought all the parties to the table — insurers, manufacturers, and other key players and reached an agreement to deliver insulin at stable and drastically lower out-of-pocket costs for our seniors," Trump said. "I hope the seniors are going to remember it, because Biden is the one who put us into the jam because they didn't know what they were doing, they were incompetent. Soon, nearly half of eligible Part D and Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans will offer this low-cost option." 

Conway told Just the News that the timing of Tuesday's event for seniors was not in response to critics in the media — including voices in The Washington Post, The Hill, the Associated Press, Vox, and The Philadelphia Inquirer — who have been citing mostly anecdotal evidence to claim that because seniors have been hardest hit by the coronavirus, they are starting to turn on President Trump, particularly in key swing states such as Florida and Pennsylvania. 

However, Real Clear Politics polling averages show a tight race in Florida — at or near the margin of error — between Trump and Biden in 2020, just as in 2016, when Trump ran against Hillary ClintonRCP polling averages in Pennsylvania showed Clinton defeating Trump, even though Trump won, albeit by a narrow margin.

The insulin event is "just the latest step in what's been a three-plus years effort to reduce prescription drug costs, including among vulnerable populations like seniors," Conway said Tuesday.

"It was two years ago that the Trump administration began allowing Medicare Part D to start covering newer insulin delivery devices, recognizing that people take their insulin in many different ways Conway said. "So, at that time, included both mechanical and electronic insulin pumps that were previously not covered under Medicare Part D. In addition, we now have, for the third year in a row, the average basic premium for Medicare Part D prescription drug prices declining at an estimated savings of about $1.9 billion."

Conway said the administration had been working heavily in the past three years — including overtime during the coronavirus pandemic — to ensure that U.S. nursing homes implemented infectious disease controls and provided adequate COVID-19 testing.

Conway recalled that on March 3, just prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, she joined Attorney General Bill Barr in Tampa, Fla. to announce a new elder justice initiative within the Department of Justice to combat many of the financial crimes and physical abuses of our senior population.

"We probably will pull that forward here shortly again," Conway said. "It didn't get a ton of attention because other things happened since."

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