Trump’s New Drug Policy Is a Play for the Upper Midwest

The Trump administration has flip-flopped on importing drugs from Canada. HHS secretary Alex Azar has always been against it, but he says that Trump has been “pushing” him on the subject. But why? Let me start with a familiar story, this time from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

It was Tara Saunders’s dermatologist who suggested she drive across the border to Canada to buy her medication. The dermatologist called in the prescription to Mark’s Marine Pharmacy in Vancouver. The 20-minute drive from her home in Blaine, Wash., saved Saunders $300 US a month.

….She isn’t the only one making the trek north. Earlier this month, a group from Minnesota, calling themselves the Caravan to Canada, made a trip to Ontario to buy insulin at a tenth of the U.S. price.

These are both states that border Canada. Are you starting to get an inkling of what’s going on? Maybe a map will help:

Trump is focused like a demon on the blue-collar states that won him the presidency in 2016 by a hair, states that he knows could go either way in 2020. Right now it’s mostly people in these border states who are the ones schlepping across the border for their insulin or cholesterol meds, and allowing legal importation would make a concrete improvement in their lives.

Is that a lot of people? No, but when you win a state by 0.2 percentage points, every little bit helps. And you can be sure that Fox News affiliates in these states will be on board with lots of heartwarming stories about someone’s grandma who can now relax and not have to worry about the monthly drive to Sault Ste. Marie or Hamilton that keeps her from having to ration her drugs. This new policy has nothing to do with making health care better. It has everything to do with Trump winning a few more votes in the upper Midwest.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

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ONE MORE QUICK THING:

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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