A survey says that vast majority of Americans want Medicare to be able to negotiate with drug companies to set lower medication prices, a practice currently prohibited by law.
The poll, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, found that 87 percent of people surveyed want Medicare to have the authority to press drugmakers for greater discounts, as the Department of Veterans Affairs does for vets.
The soaring prices for crucial medicines have hit both health insurers and consumers, who are being asked to cover a higher proportion of their medications’ cost though bigger co-pays. While the Republican Congress is unlikely to allow such negotiations, political pressure and insurance-industry lobbying may make it happen within a few years.
“People don’t understand why these drugs cost so much, and they don’t understand why, in America, you can’t negotiate for a better price,” Mollyann Brodie, executive director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser Family Foundation, told Reuters.
Efforts to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices have not been successful because, of course, of pharmaceutical industry opposition and because of ideological opposition to government interference in the marketplace despite the seeming contradiction seen in the government’s right to negotiate drug prices for vets.
Drug makers say their prices reflect the billions of dollars they spend in research and development, for approved treatments and the new drugs that fail. But critics charge that too much of the money is spent on marketing.
America’s Health Insurance Plans, an industry lobby group, may bring increase pressure on drugmakers now that AHIP has named Marilyn Tavenner, the former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as chief executive.