Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) met last night to debate the future of Obamacare in a town-hall debate. The 2 senators are opposed on how to provide health care coverage to Americans, but found common ground on drug pricing and pharmaceutical importation.
Sanders and Cruz agreed that people should be able to purchase drugs from other countries, suggesting that it could create an environment of competition and lower U.S. prices. In January, both senators voted for an amendment to a budget resolution that would have allowed drug re-importation, but it did not pass.
“Pharmacists and distributors should be able to buy [Food and Drug Administration] approved medicine anywhere in the world. Then you will have international competition,” Sanders said.
“The pharmaceutical industry owns the United States Congress,” he added. “It’s not just Republicans.”
While Cruz agreed, he said the process to approve a new drug must be accelerated.
“The cost of getting a new drug approved is prohibitively expensive,” he said. “Just curing cancer would save $50 trillion across the globe and the FDA is a barrier to doing that.”
While the senators were able to agree that the pharmaceutical industry and drug pricing present problems in the U.S., they did not reach common ground regarding the future of Obamacare.
Sanders pushed for a single-payer system, saying that Obamacare was a step in the right direction towards universal healthcare. Cruz, on the other hand, asserted that Obamacare failed to live up to its promises and called for commonly-touted Republican policies including the sale of insurances across state lines.
The future of Obamacare is up in the air – the Republican-controlled Congress has made it a priority to undo the former president’s healthcare legislation, but has not indicated whether it will repeal the bill and offer a replacement simultaneously or repeal without a replacement ready to go.