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Poll Reveals Near-Unanimous Call for Aggressive Congressional Action to Lower Prescription Drug Prices

The nationwide poll surveyed 1,202 registered voters across the political spectrum in the early part of 2019 to look into their attitudes and support for major drug pricing policies.

A nationwide survey released today shows more than 8 in 10 voters think prices charged for prescription drugs are unreasonable, with a large majority demanding action to reduce prescription drug costs.

The poll, funded by Arnold Ventures, reaffirms overwhelming voter anger about prescription drug costs. Most notably, it documents broad demand across the political spectrum for aggressive policy interventions, even when pressure-tested against the most likely counter-arguments that will be made by opponents. 

“The poll should serve as a wakeup call for Congress to get serious about bold and comprehensive solutions,” said Mark Miller, Executive Vice President of Health Care for Arnold Ventures. “It shows that voters across the political spectrum are demanding aggressive action to directly address high prices and provide relief for millions of Americans at the pharmacy counter.”

Conducted by a bipartisan team of political pollsters, Geoff Garin of Hart Research Associates and Whit Ayres of North Star Opinion Research, the poll surveyed 1,202 registered voters in the early part of 2019.

“Remarkably, even after the strongest opposing arguments were made, support for aggressive policy options held up across party affiliation – with large majorities of voters continuing to support them,” said Garin.

In the survey, voters identified the cost of health care as a top issue for Congress to address (53 percent) and drug prices among the top three health care priorities for voters (66 percent). A large majority of voters across political lines supported aggressive policies to lower prices, including Medicare negotiation on high-price medications that do not face competition. 

“The frustration with prescription drug costs and the lack of ability to relieve the cost pressure with voters has significant political consequences,” said Ayres. “Well over 7 in 10 voters indicated that they would think less favorably toward their member of Congress if they did not support legislation to provide prescription drug cost relief.” 


Drug Prices: The Voters Speak

Read the full executive summary of Arnold Ventures' March 2019 drug pricing polling, which reveals how voters feel about Congressional action in response to drug prices.

Read the report

Key findings from the survey research include:

Voters identify excessive drug prices as a chief issue that Congress should address in the next two years:

    • More voters identify the cost of health care as a top issue Congress and the president should address than any other issue (53 percent), followed by immigration (38 percent), and the economy and jobs (36 percent).
    • Eighty-four percent of voters surveyed said prices charged for prescription drugs are unreasonable; 45 percent described prices as very unreasonable.

Voters will think less of members who do not vote to aggressively intervene on drug prices:

  • Seventy-four percent of voters say they would feel less favorable toward their members of Congress if they did NOT support legislation to reduce drug prices.

Voters want policymakers to act and act aggressively:

    • By two to one, voters prefer federal price limits (49 percent) over more competition (24 percent), though some support both (27 percent).
    • Republican voters support price limits (40 percent) over increased competition (34 percent), with some supporting both (26 percent).

Voters greatly support Medicare negotiations for expensive drugs with no competition after hearing both sides’ arguments:

  • Support for Medicare negotiation for single source, high cost drugs remains high (87 percent) even after exposure to opponents’ strongest arguments (e.g., reducing R&D investments and leading to access to/rationing of certain drugs) and supporters’ counter-arguments.

The poll should serve as a wake-up call for Congress to get serious about bold and comprehensive solutions.
Mark Miller Executive Vice President of Health Care, Arnold Ventures