U.S. PIRG response to the 2019 State of the Union

Media Contacts
Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

Abe Scarr

State Director, Illinois PIRG; Energy and Utilities Program Director, PIRG

With prescription drugs and infrastructure on the table, we could see rare, bipartisan progress at the federal level


In his second State of the Union address, President Donald Trump highlighted, among other topics, the need to rebuild America’s infrastructure and reign in the cost of prescription drugs, two issues with considerable bipartisan support.

The following U.S. PIRG experts have responded to those issues, and some others that were touched on in the speech, below.

Prescription drugs

While Americans have access to some of the best medical care in the world, from life-saving drugs to advanced medical devices to cutting-edge surgical techniques, our deeply flawed system has sent costs spiraling upward. We spend more on healthcare, but often receive worse quality care anyway. That’s led to a public outcry for action. Now, elected officials across the spectrum are responding to it. In the last few weeks, a rash of proposals and hearings have demanded actions to rein in high prescription drug prices, and tonight, President Trump echoed those calls for bringing prices down and improving transparency.

“Our healthcare system should make Americans healthier at a reasonable price. Unfortunately, monopolies and opaque pricing have filled the market with land mines for patients that threaten their health and financial security,” said Lance Kilpatrick, high value health care campaign director for U.S. PIRG. “Consumers should not only receive the best medical care and treatments, but they should also receive the best value for the care they receive. We urge President Trump and Congress to work together to stop price gouging at every step of the way, and increase transparency so consumers can find more affordable drugs.”


As Illinois PIRG director and infrastructure expert Abe Scarr wrote in The Hill today, the infrastructure debate must be about more than building new things. To best serve taxpayers and prepare for the future, leaders of both parties must take a critical look at our existing infrastructure — phasing out elements that no longer fit our vision of the future and prioritizing repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure that continues to meet our needs.

“As the president said, ‘Both parties should be able to unite for a great rebuilding of America’s crumbling infrastructure,’” said Scarr. “But the devil is in the details and the president provided very few.”

“Any infrastructure projects we undertake today need to make our country healthier, safer and happier — both now and for decades to come,” continued Scarr.  “As Congress and the president renew the debate about infrastructure investment, it is critical that they prioritize investments in livable communities, smart transportation, clean energy and improved public health.”