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Three things to know about so-called Medicare negotiation polling

Tom Wilbur
Tom Wilbur November 18, 2021

Three things to know about so-called Medicare negotiation polling.

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As policymakers continue to push partisan drug pricing proposals, several polls misrepresenting voter opinion have been circulated to try and justify these flawed policies. These polls fail to educate voters on the policy arguments and trade-offs and consistently ignore voters’ true concerns, as well as patient voices speaking out against these types of proposals.

Medicare “negotiation” proposals are nothing short of government price-setting, and if implemented, would gut the very incentives necessary to encourage investment in further research and development, giving the government the power to pick winners and losers for lifesaving medicines. The fact is, non-partisan independent polling repeatedly demonstrates that once Americans understand what so-called government “negotiation” is and what the trade-offs are, support vanishes.

Below we examine three things to know about Medicare “negotiation” polling.

1. Americans reject Medicare negotiation once they learn about the trade-offs.
  • A new Ipsos/PhRMA poll shows that only 14% support “negotiation” when told it could limit people’s access to newer prescription medicines. Only 16% support it when told it could lead to less research and development of new medicines.
  • According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 65% of Americans oppose negotiation if it leads to less research and development of new treatments or if it limits people’s access to medicines once they come to market.
  • Independent polling reveals that 72% of Americans actively oppose government negotiation if it results in fewer new medicines being developed in the future. That’s notable, considering economists at the University of Chicago found government price-setting policies, like H.R. 3, could result in as many as 342 fewer medicines coming to market from 2021 to 2039.
2. Misguided negotiation proposals fail to address voters’ highest priorities for the country and don’t meet Americans’ biggest health care needs.
  • Polling shows Americans’ top issues are the economy/jobs and COVID-19, with prescription drug costs coming in last among the 11 issues polled.
  • As recent Gallup polling also confirms, Americans believe that economic issues (18%) and COVID-19 (26%) are the most important problems facing the country today.
  • Specific to health care, Americans prioritize addressing the cost of insurance and premiums (44%) and ending the COVID-19 pandemic (37%). This should come as no surprise, considering 3 in 10 Americans who have insurance report still facing a financial barrier to care – including trouble paying medical bills or other out-of-pocket costs.
3. Americans want Congress to prioritize policies that address their health care concerns.
  • Two-thirds (65%) of voters say Congress should focus more on reducing the costs of health care premiums, deductibles and copays as opposed to focusing on reducing the costs of prescription medicines.
  • By more than a 2:1 margin, voters want Congress to protect the current Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans that negotiate lower drug prices and offer a variety of competing choices to seniors (52%) as opposed to allowing the government to decide which medicines will be included in a list of negotiated drug prices that can be prescribed for all government programs (23%).
  • And by a nearly 3:1 margin, voters want the federal government to focus on providing oversight and incentives (72%) versus set prices and coverage for services and prescription medicines (27%).

Misguided policies like “negotiation” perpetuate existing problems with our current health care system, making a broken system worse, and failing to meaningfully address the challenges patients have affording their medicines. When it comes to addressing Americans’ true priorities, policymakers should focus on a better way to lower patients’ out-of-pocket costs while protecting access and the future development of new cures and treatments – not so-called “negotiation.” Learn more about how we’re working together to improve the health care system at PhRMA.org/BetterWay.

And tell Congress to protect Medicare.

Topics: Medicare, Out-of-Pocket Costs, Polling, Proactive Agenda