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Trump asks diabetic seniors to repay him with votes just hours after Kellyanne Conway insisted insulin plan not about politics

'I don't use insulin. Should I be?' non-diabetic president asks in latest bizarre comment

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Tuesday 26 May 2020 21:48 BST
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Donald Trump wants older voters with diabetes to repay him in November for a deal his administration struck to lower their insulin costs, even though a top aide hours earlier said the move was not about politics.

"I hope the seniors are going to remember it because Biden is the one who put us in the jam. They were incompetent," he said of former Vice President Joe Biden and his former Obama administration teammates. (Mr Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.)

The president made the remark during an afternoon Rose Garden event during which he announced a deal with insulin producers that will make health plans available to Medicare recipients with capped $35 copay for seniors with diabetes.

With the comment, the always politically minded Mr Trump broke with what one of his top counselors, Kellyanne Conway, told reporters on a call earlier in the day.

"We're talking about policy today at the White House, not politics," Ms Conway said on a call previewing the insulin price announcement.

"The timing really is geared toward open enrollment," and not the 2020 election, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Director Seema Verma said on the same briefing call with reporters.

Lower drug prices, especially for older Americans, long has been one of bipartisan agreement, though congressional Republicans and the White House have been unable to strike a deal with Democrats. They did come to terms on 2018 legislation that Mr Trump signed into law aimed at helping patients obtain information to cheaper drug options from their pharmacist.

The House in December passed a Democratic-written measure largely aimed at seniors that would allow the Medicare program to negotiate prices with drug manufacturers for certain medicines, including insulin. But the GOP-run Senate never took up that measure and the White House said Mr Trump would veto it.

Meantime, the event did feature yet another eyebrow-raising line from the president, who is not a diabetic.

"I don't use insulin," he said to someone in the front row of a socially distanced Rose Garden after reading from prepared remarks a summary of how it helps those with diabetes. "Should I be?

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