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.

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IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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