New Poll Shows that Support for Medicare “Negotiation” Plummets Once Americans Learn About the Policy Arguments

Support for “Negotiation” Drops Among Seniors, Democrats and Hispanic Voters When Prompted with New Information 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 30, 2021) - A new Ipsos/PhRMA poll shows that initial support for Medicare “negotiation” evaporates once Americans are presented with arguments around the debate. Public opinion dips by as much as 51 points, overall, when Americans see arguments both for and against drug price “negotiations.”

The poll was conducted among 5,029 American adults using Ipsos’ gold-standard probability-based KnowledgePanel® representative of the American public. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 1.6 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, for results based on the entire sample of adults.

“As voters learn about the extreme policies being discussed in Washington, they are sending a clear message to policymakers – don’t sacrifice access and innovation,” said Stephen J. Ubl, president and CEO, PhRMA. “Americans don’t want Congress to fundamentally upend Medicare and interfere in decisions best left to patients and their doctors. Instead, the public wants lawmakers to address the real affordability challenges people face at the pharmacy. That’s why our industry remains committed to fighting for solutions that lower out-of-pocket costs for medicines, while protecting access to life-saving treatments and future innovation.”

Voters Don’t Want to Sacrifice Access and Innovation 

This survey along with other recent non-partisan polling shows that support for Medicare “negotiation” drops significantly once people learn more about the policy proposal. In particular:

  • Only 15% support when told it could limit people’s access to newer prescription medicines 
  • Only 15% support when told that taxing medicines up to 95% for non-compliance could take money out of the search for new medicines and cures. 
  • Only 16% support when told it could lead to less research and development of new medicines. 

Support particularly drops when Americans are told that drug price negotiations could limit people’s access to newer prescription medicine. Notably there is a significant shift in support among key demographics:

  • Democrats support drops 61 points (from 77% to 16%) after learning the policy could limit access.
  • Seniors’ support drops by 58 points (moving from 70% to 12%) 
  • Hispanic support decreases 51 points (from 67% to 16%).

Americans Want Policymakers to Focus on Health Insurance Costs and Coverage

Respondents identified health insurance costs and coverage as the most important problem facing the American health care system and prioritized solutions that would lower their out-of-pocket costs.

  • After insurance costs (44%) and the pandemic (37%), the bureaucracy, inefficiency, and waste in the system (30%) and out-of-pocket expenses (28%) are cited as top health care concerns. Prescription drug costs is the fifth most important health care problem for Americans, with 26% feeling it’s a major issue in the health care system.
  • When given the choice, 77% say Congress should focus more on reducing the overall costs of health care coverage such as premiums, deductibles, and copays versus focusing more on reducing the costs of prescription drugs (22%)
  • Eighty six percent agree politicians have lost touch with what the public needs from their health care.

Voters Want Pragmatic Policy Solutions – Not Government Price Setting

The survey shows that instead of prescription drug price setting, Americans broadly support policy proposals that enable government oversight and address their more pressing concerns around health insurance coverage – out-of-pocket costs not covered by insurance.

  • 72% believe the federal government should provide oversight and incentives to health care providers, prescription drug companies and health insurers to encourage more competition to lower prices in the health care system versus setting prices for health care services and prescription medicines and determine what services and medicines are covered by private health plans (27%).

Approximately three quarters of Americans’ support requiring health insurers to pass the discounts they receive from drug companies on medicines to patients at the pharmacy (75%), providing more incentives to health insurers to keep health plan prices low for people (74%) and reducing wasteful spending by eliminating unnecessary procedures, duplicate testing and administrative overhead (73%).

The survey reinforces support for PhRMA’s patient centered agenda and solutions that would make the health care system more affordable.

For more details on the Ipsos/PhRMA poll click here.

About PhRMA

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested more than $1 trillion in the search for new treatments and cures, including $91.1 billion in 2020 alone.

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