Nearly three-quarters of Tennessee voters feel the cost of prescription drugs is "unreasonable" and about half are not satisfied with how President Trump and members of both parties of Congress are handling the issue, according to a new poll released today by the West Health Institute, a nonpartisan, nonprofit healthcare research organization.
The survey of 750 registered Tennessee voters found that 85 percent are concerned over the high cost of prescription drugs, with more than a third (36 percent) saying they have not filled or taken drugs as prescribed because of its cost in the last year, which 74 percent find "unreasonable."
Voters are mostly disapproving of the way the president and Republicans and Democrats in Congress are handling the high cost of prescription drugs, which is likely to be a key campaign issue in the run up to the midterm elections: 46 percent of respondents disapprove of the way President Trump is handling the issue, while 52 percent disapprove of the way congressional Republicans are handling it and 48 percent disapprove of the way congressional Democrats are handling it. The survey found 70 percent of all Tennessee voters, regardless of party affiliation, believe reining in high prescription drug costs should be a top priority for candidates running for Congress.
"In this polarized political environment, rarely does an issue cut across party lines so strongly. This poll shows all Tennesseans are fed up with the high cost of drugs and will reward candidates who support common-sense solutions like allowing Medicare to directly negotiate prices with drug companies," said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of the West Health Institute. "Voters have told their candidates what they want them to do. Now it's up to the candidates to make it a priority issue."
The survey found the cost of healthcare is the single most important issue facing the country for 59 percent of Tennessee voters-- even more important than jobs and the economy (46 percent), immigration (31 percent) and national security concerns (30 percent).
When asked about possible ways to reduce drug costs, in particular, 87 percent support allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies and 73 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports this approach.
Meanwhile, 85 percent said they want President Trump to take steps to clear the way for Medicare to negotiate directly. The president previously supported the idea but did not include it as part of his "Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices" released in May 2018.
Under current law, the federal government is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices for Medicare. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, national health spending was $3.3 trillion in 2016, with $328.6 billion going toward prescription drugs.
A large majority of voters (85 percent) also support requiring drug companies to release information to the public on how they set their prices and 40 percent support requiring drug companies to set the price of a drug based on how well it works for patients.
"New common sense drug pricing policies are desperately needed before runaway costs cripple our economy and adversely affect millions of Americans," said Tim Lash, chief strategy officer and executive vice president of the West Health Institute. "Our survey shows a majority of Tennesseans are ready to make their voices heard on election day, as their health and well-being is at stake."
To view the full report, visit: https://www.westhealth.org/resource/opinion-poll-tennessee-voters-want-action-on-the-high-price-of-prescription-drugs/