The Hill: Poll: Majority of Republicans support Medicare negotiations for prescription drug prices

2 min
June 03, 2021

By Justine Coleman

June 3, 2021

A majority of polled Republicans backed giving Medicare the authority to negotiate lower prescription drug prices, according to a survey released Thursday.

A West Health/Gallup poll showed widespread support for giving the federal government “a major role” in negotiating drug prices, with 61 percent of Republicans and 97 percent of Democrats saying they backed such an initiative. Overall, 81 percent of respondents said they supported Medicare negotiations to regulate drug costs.

The survey comes as the pharmaceutical industry and several GOP lawmakers have argued the move would stifle innovation. 

Only 19 percent of Americans said they think Medicare negotiation would damage innovation or market competition, including 39 percent of Republicans.

Respondents vastly agreed that drug pricing requires major reform, with 90 percent concurring that improvements are needed instead of keeping with the status quo, including 96 percent of Democrats and 83 percent of Republicans.

In another poll conducted by West Health and Global Strategy Group released Wednesday, more than 80 percent of likely voters in Arizona, Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia backed Medicare negotiation of prescription drug costs.

President Biden called for Congress to take action to reduce drug prices in his April joint address but left such proposals out of the financial plan for his budget.

Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), have promoted their drug pricing bill H.R. 3 that would grant Medicare the ability to negotiate drug costs. The Congressional Budget Office has said the government would save $450 billion in 10 years. That bill has been referred to a subcommittee.

More than 70 percent of House Democrats banded together last week to request Biden and his administration commit to and prioritize Medicare reforms, including lowering prescription drug prices.

While former President Trump expressed support for similar negotiations, some congressional Republicans have come out against the move, joining the pharmaceutical companies, saying the reduced prices will damage competition and discourage innovation of new products.

“Americans aren’t buying the claim that attempts to reign in drug prices will stifle innovation and devastate the pharmaceutical industry,” said Chief Strategy Officer for West Health Tim Lash.

“These misleading arguments are meant to preserve profits rather than protect patients,” Lash said. “The time has come to finally enable Medicare negotiation. Americans are becoming increasing restless for it to happen even if the pharmaceutical companies are not.”

The West Health/Gallup poll surveyed 3,719 American adults between April 15 and 21. The poll had an overall margin of error of 1.2 percentage points. West Health is made up of nonprofit and nonpartisan organizations and focused on reducing healthcare costs for seniors.

The West Health and Global Strategy Group poll surveyed 2,422 likely voters across the four states between April 29 and May 4, with a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points in each state.


Timothy Lash
President, Gary and Mary West Foundation
President, West Health Institute
President & Chair, West Health Policy Center