Hillary Clinton Promises Drug Cost Fix; Praises Husband, Obama

Sep 22, 2015

Clinton spoke to a crowd of near 1200 at Philander Smith College Monday.
Credit Sarah Whites-Koditschek / KUAR

Hillary Clinton promised a plan to cap the rising costs of prescription drugs and praised her husband’s and President Obama’s administrations in a speech before a raucous crowd at Little Rock’s Philander Smith College Monday.

Clinton promised to reduce health care costs, including enacting a cap on out-of-pocket costs for prescription drug expenses. She referenced a story in The New York Times Sunday about the sudden increase of the cost of the pharmaceutical drug Daraprim from $13.50 per tablet to $750 after the drug was purchased by Turing Pharmaceuticals. She said she would release a detailed plan to curb those abuses. That plan will be revealed Tuesday, she said in a tweet posted earlier in the day.

She praised Arkansas’ expansion of the state’s Medicaid population via the private option and contrasted the state’s experiences with Louisiana, a state she had visited earlier in the day that declined to participate.

Under the Affordable Care Act and a subsequent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, states can choose whether or not to participate in Medicaid expansion. Many states declined to participate, but Arkansas lawmakers and Gov. Mike Beebe’s office created the private option, which uses Medicaid dollars to purchase private health insurance for lower income Arkansans.

Clinton recalled her efforts to reform health care as U.S. first lady during her husband Bill Clinton’s administration. While that effort was not successful, she said she did help create the Children’s Health Insurance Program. She praised the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and criticized Republican opponents by saying, “Why would you repeal something that’s working?”

Clinton said the American economy has performed better under recent Democratic presidents than recent Republican ones. She praised her husband’s efforts and President Obama’s, saying Obama doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

“It gives me great joy to go around bragging about Bill Clinton and Barack Obama every chance I get,” she said.

She said the two Democrats “inherited messes” caused by their Republican predecessors. Her husband’s administration had presided over the creation of 23 million new jobs and balanced the budget, while Obama helped right the nation’s ship after the recession that began at the end of President George W. Bush’s second term, she said.

She talked about stagnant wages and rising inequality. She said she would fight for raising the minimum wage, making sure the “people at the top pay their fair share of taxes,” and said that no one should have to borrow money to attend a public college.

“The centerpiece of my campaign will be to raise incomes,” she said.

Philander Smith is a historically black, Methodist college. During her speech, Clinton reflected on both of those themes. She said that, as a Methodist, she believes she was saved by grace but that a person’s good works are important. She described seeing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak when she was a child.

“We should all say loudly and clearly, ‘Black lives matter,’” she said.

Clinton also discussed her years in Arkansas, including her efforts to reform Arkansas schools and the fact that her daughter, Chelsea, was born in Little Rock.

“I owe so much to the people of this state and I’m so grateful for the years I had to live here, the friendships that I made, the lessons that I learned, and I can tell you this: When I’m president, Arkansas will be on my mind,” she said, the rest of her words drowned out by applause.