Gov. Ron DeSantis signed legislation Tuesday at the sprawling Villages retirement community that allows the state to import bargain pharmaceutical drugs from Canada. He also praised President Trump’s “unprecedented” support for Florida ahead of Trump’s planned campaign rally in Orlando next week.
“Since I’ve come into office, the president’s done more for Florida than any president I can remember. Those are just the facts,” DeSantis said.
“We had the hurricane in Northwest Florida – everybody had forgotten about that. I came in and went up to the Oval Office and he gave us an unprecedented level of reimbursement for those communities who had just been decimated,” he said.
“When he’s in Orlando, he wants to let people know what he’s done. I think that would be totally appropriate. Because he spends so much time in Florida, he understands Florida issues more than other presidents who just didn’t have much of a relationship with Florida.”
Trump has announced plans to kick off his reelection campaign during a rally at Orlando’s Amway Center next Tuesday – although he’s been campaigning for some time. DeSantis joined the president during a rally in Panama City Beach on May 8, for example.
Federal legislation providing $19 billion for disaster relief throughout the country, including the Hurricane Michael zone, stalled for eight months in Congress as Trump fought language extending assistance to Puerto Rico.
DeSantis, however, argued that Florida has “gotten a lot done in conjunction with the federal government already, and I think that there’s more we’re going to able to do.”
That will include cooperation on the prescription drugs bill. “I’ve already met with the president since the bill was passed, and he is in favor of doing whatever we can to have cheaper prescription drugs for people,” the governor said.
The legislation (HB 19) allows state officials to shop for pharmaceuticals in Canada, where prices run significantly lower than in the United States, for dispensing by state agencies including the Medicaid and prison systems, and possibly wholesale to pharmacies and insurance providers. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services would have to approve.
The governor plans to sign additional health care legislation soon, he said, including a so-called “telehealth” initiative and the Patient Savings Act (SB 524) which provides incentives for insurers to offer consumers “shared savings incentive programs.”
As for the $91 billion state budget, the Legislature hasn’t sent that to the governor yet, but DeSantis and his aides have already been reviewing the bill, including line items for local projects sought by individual legislators.
“Some of them, obviously, don’t pass muster with me, so they’re not going to make it. There’s others that did pass muster, so they will. And there’s some we have questions about,” DeSantis said. Their legislative sponsors can expect phone calls asking them to justify those projects.