Press Release

IOWA VOTERS SPEAK: New Poll Finds Voters Want President Trump and Congress to Do More about “Unreasonable” Prescription Drug Costs

3 min
October 09, 2018

Oct. 09, 2018—Over three-quarters of Iowa voters feel the cost of prescription drugs is “unreasonable” and mostly disapprove of how President Trump and both parties in 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 Iowa voters found that 82 percent are concerned over the high cost of prescription drugs, with more than a quarter (27 percent) saying they have not filled or taken drugs as prescribed because of its cost in the last year, which 77 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. The survey found nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all Iowa voters believe reining in high prescription drug costs should be a top priority for candidates running for Congress. This is a sentiment that a majority of voters believe regardless of party affiliation, the poll found.

“In this polarized political environment, rarely does an issue cut across party lines so strongly. This poll shows all Iowans 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 60 percent of Iowa voters—even more important than jobs and the economy (44 percent), immigration (28 percent) and national security concerns (26 percent).

When asked about possible ways to reduce drug costs in particular, 86 percent support allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies and 66 percent said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supports this approach.

Meanwhile, 83 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.

Eighty-five percent of voters also support requiring drug companies to release information to the public on how they set their prices and 39 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 Iowans 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:

About the survey
This poll reflects a telephone survey (calls were made on landline and mobile phones in both English and Spanish) statewide in Iowa. The poll was conducted by J Wallin Opinion Research for West Health Institute with a margin of error of +/-3.6%. The survey was conducted from August 16 through August 23, 2018.


About the Gary and Mary West Health Institute and West Health
Solely funded by philanthropists Gary and Mary West, West Health is a family of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations including the Gary and Mary West Health Institute and Gary and Mary West Foundation in San Diego, and the Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center in Washington, D.C. West Health is dedicated to lowering healthcare costs and enabling seniors to successfully age in place with access to high-quality, affordable health and support services that preserve and protect their dignity, quality of life and independence. Learn more at and follow @westhealth.

Media Contacts:
Tim Ingersoll,, (858) 412-8727