HEALTHCARE & DRUG PRICING

Large Bipartisan Majorities Favor Numerous Proposals for Lowering Healthcare Costs and Drug Prices

As the price of healthcare continues to rise faster than wages, a new public consultation survey by the Program for Public Consultation (PPC) finds bipartisan majorities of Americans in the six swing states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, as well as nationally, support major proposals for lowering healthcare costs. 

Capping Drug Prices

The Federal government capping the price of all drugs to what is charged in other developed countries is favored by large majorities in every swing state (77% to 81%), including majorities of Democrats (84% to 87%) and Republicans (72% to 82%).  Nationally, a large bipartisan majority (78%) is also in favor. 

FIRST ARGUMENT IN FAVOR
It is appropriate for the government to regulate the price of prescription drugs, which are necessary for people’s survival and to live healthy lives. When drug prices are high some people can’t afford them and as a result some of them will develop more serious illness or disability, or even die, unnecessarily. High drug prices also drive-up premiums for health insurance, putting it out of reach for millions.
Taxpayers fund a third of all research that goes into developing new drugs – which drug companies rely on – and yet many Americans can’t even afford them. Americans are getting taken advantage of, and it’s time for the government to step in and change that.


FIRST ARGUMENT AGAINST
Companies take huge risks when they invest in developing new drugs, because most of those investments won’t work out. It can cost up to two billion dollars to develop one new successful drug, and there’s no certainty that they will make their money back, let alone make a profit. If we lower their revenues, and lower what they can expect to earn on future investments, they will make less investment and ultimately there will be fewer new drugs. This hurts everyone’s health and some people will die who could have been saved.


SECOND ARGUMENT IN FAVOR
Large drug corporations have far higher profits than any other industry.
The idea that they are not going to invest in developing new drugs because they might instead make more ordinary levels of profits does not make sense.
They will still make lots of money.
They are not going to stop. Threatening to hold back on developing drugs is just a ploy to try to hold the health of the American people hostage.
The real health concern here is not that drugs won’t be developed, but that people do not get the drugs they need because of their high cost and some of them die unnecessarily.
SECOND ARGUMENT AGAINST
As much as it would be great for drug companies to charge lower prices and keep investing the same amount in drug R&D, the government’s own estimates have found that will not happen.
You can only drive down their profits so much. Companies have a responsibility to their investors who have taken a big risk by investing a lot of money in developing drugs. Many of them don’t end up working, but still cost the company a lot of money. This proposal will leave us with fewer lifesaving medicines, because it’s based on a misunderstanding of how businesses actually work.

MAKING HIGHER ACA SUBSIDIES PERMANENT

Making permanent the pandemic-era law that temporarily increased Affordable Care Act subsidies for lower and middle income households is favored by nearly two-thirds in every swing state (62% to 68%), including majorities of Democrats (71% to 78%) and Republicans (55% to 62%). Nationally, a bipartisan majority of 67% is in favor. Subsidies are scheduled to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2026. 

PRO & CON ARGUMENTS l DEMOGRAPHICS

REVOKING PATENTS FOR UNAFFORDABLE DRUGS DEVELOPED WITH FEDERAL AID

Allowing the Executive Branch to revoke patents for drugs developed with federal aid, which are unaffordable for most who need them, is favored in every swing state (74% to 77%), including Democrats (79% to 84%) and Republicans (70% to 75%), as well as nationally (73%).

PROHIBITING DEALS THAT DELAY THE RELEASE OF GENERIC DRUGS

Prohibiting “pay-to-delay”–in which brand-name drug companies preserve their ability to charge high prices by paying generic drug companies to delay bringing their generic version to market–is favored by majorities in every swing state (72% to 77%), including Democrats (75% to 84%) and Republicans (68% to 72%), as well as nationally (71%).

REQUIRING PRICE TRANSPARENCY FOR HEALTHCARE COSTS

Price transparency–requiring that health and insurance providers make prices publicly available as a means of promoting competition and lowering costs–has been enacted by both the Trump and Biden administrations through executive orders. Making price transparency requirements permanent through legislation is favored by more than three quarters in every swing state (75% to 84%), including Democrats (82% to 88%) and Republicans (74% to 80%), as well as nationally (77%).

FUNDING SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT

Providing $13 billion in additional federal funding to help make treatment for substance use disorder low-cost or free to nearly everyone who needs and wants it is favored by majorities in every swing state (65% to 79%), including Democrats (77% to 86%) and Republicans (56% to 77%). Nationally, a bipartisan majority (80%) is in favor.

Even with the airwaves of the swing states filled with divisive messages, when people there focused on possible solutions for lowering healthcare costs, we found tremendous bipartisan common ground.

Steven Kull, Director of the Program for Public Consultation

To ensure that respondents fully understood the issues around drug and healthcare prices, respondents went through a ‘policymaking simulation’ in which they were provided in-depth briefings and arguments for and against each policy, reviewed by experts on each side of the debates.

The survey was fielded May 23rd to July 8th, 2024 with 6,854 adults by the Program for Public Consultation at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, including 3,649 in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (approximately 600 in each), and 3,205 nationally. Samples were obtained from multiple online opt-in panels, including Cint, Dynata and Prodege. Sample collection and quality control was managed by QuantifyAI under the direction of the Program for Public Consultation.

Samples were pre-stratified and weighted by age, race, gender, education, income, metro/non-metro, marital status, home ownership, and partisan affiliation to match the general adult population. The survey was offered in both English and Spanish. The confidence interval for the national sample range from +/-2.3% to 3.9%, and for each of the state samples it is 4.5%.

Cap Drug Prices to Amount Charged in Other Developed Countries
SOURCE: End Price Gouging for Medications Act by Rep. Dingell and Sen. Merkley.

Lower Health Insurance Costs by Making Higher ACA Subsidies Permanent
SOURCES: Improving Health Insurance Affordability Act by Sen. Shaheen
Health Care Affordability Act by Rep. Underwood.

Revoke Patents for High-Priced Drugs Developed with Federal Funds
SOURCES: Preserve Access to Affordable Generics and Biosimilars Act by Sen. Klobuchar
Protecting Consumer Access to Generic Drugs Act by Rep. Glusenkamp Perez.

Require Price Transparency for Most Health Products and Services
SOURCE: This proposal has been central to the Republican Party’s plan to reduce health costs. Both the Trump and Biden administrations have enacted such requirements through executive orders.

Fund Substance Abuse Treatment to Make it Available to All Who Want It
SOURCE: CARE Act by Rep. Raskin and Sen. Warren.

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