During the 116th Congress, legislation has been introduced to put the brakes on rising pharmaceutical costs. Recent poll results find that Americans want Congress to hammer out a bipartisan fix to this issue.
Last month, AARP kicked off its Stop RX Greed campaign to lobby Congress to pass legislation to lower drug costs. The goal of AARP’s sustained media campaign is to help drive down drug prices for all Americans by advocating for a variety of legislative, executive, and regulatory actions at both the federal and state level.
As part of the campaign, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit conducted a study to gather data from older voters on their views on drug costs. The survey, released on March 13, finds that likely voters ages 50 and older, self-identified as Republican, Democrat, and Independent, shared concerns about the high price of drugs, and support common-sense policies that will lower prices.
According to AARP’s survey, 72 percent of the respondents say they are concerned about the cost of their medications with 63 percent charging that the cost of prescription drugs is unreasonable. Nearly 40 percent say they did not fill a prescription provided by their doctor with cost being the most common reason.
The researchers found that 90 percent of these respondents support Congress allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices.
Difficulties in Affording Prescription Drugs
Other polls reflect AARP poll findings, that seniors find it difficult to pay for high drug costs and want Congress to fix the problem.
Earlier in March, a published Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll found that 24 percent of the respondents taking prescription drugs and 23 percent of seniors taking drugs say it is difficult for them to afford their medications.
According to KFF survey findings, released on March 1, the groups most likely to report difficulties affording their medications include people with monthly drug costs of $100 or more (58 percent), in fair or poor health (49 percent), with annual incomes less than $40,000 (35 percent), or taking at least four drugs monthly (35 percent).
The researchers found that 3 in ten respondents, ages 50-64 years old, report problems affording drugs. This group takes more prescriptions on average than younger people but isn’t old enough to qualify for Medicare and its drug benefit.
In addition to difficulty affording prescriptions, about 29 percent of all adults responding to the KFF survey reported not taking their medicines as prescribed at some point in the past year because of the cost. This includes about 19 percent who say they didn’t fill a prescription or took an over-the counter drug instead, and about 12 percent who say they cut pills in half or skipped a dose. Three in ten of those who report not taking their medicines say their condition got worse as a result (8% of the public overall). As Congress
To lower drug costs, AARP calls on Congress to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug prices and to allow states to negotiate lower prices with drug companies. Giving state Attorneys General authority to crack down on outrageous price increases should also be considered, too.
AARP also pushes for clamping down on pay-for-delay and other loopholes that keep lower cost generic drugs off the market, capping consumers’ prescription drug out-of-pocket costs, and finally, preserving state pharmacy assistance programs.