A new poll found that 56% of voters support giving Medicare the power to negotiate for lower drug prices for certain products, but only 50% want it to be included in a major infrastructure package.
The poll, released Wednesday and conducted by Morning Consult and Politico, comes as Democrats are hammering out how to approach Medicare price negotiation in a massive $3.5 trillion infrastructure package. Moderate lawmakers want a narrower authority while progressives favor broad powers that would require drugmakers to extend drug prices negotiated by Medicare to commercial plans.
The poll found that 56% of registered voters either strongly or somewhat supported a drug pricing proposal that would allow for Medicare to negotiate drug prices for some products but could result in fewer drugs being introduced to the market.
Another 50% are in favor of adding the plan to the $3.5 trillion package that is being hammered out now in Congress.
The poll was of 1,999 registered voters and had a margin of error of two percentage points.
Democrats are hoping to use the drug pricing provision, which the Congressional Budget Office has estimated could save $456 billion over the next decade, to help bring down the cost of the package.
But it remains unclear how far Democrats can go on drug pricing.
A trio of centrists opposed a drug pricing negotiation provision in a legislative markup earlier this month, saying it would harm innovation. Centrist lawmakers have instead endorsed a narrower policy that would enable Medicare to only negotiate for certain drugs on Part B that don’t have market exclusivity or competition.
With a 50-50 Senate majority and slim majority in the House, Democrats can afford few if any defections. Democrats aim to use a procedural tool called reconciliation to pass the $3.5 trillion package without having to break a legislative filibuster in the Senate.
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, told reporters Wednesday that he has been in talks with House Democrats over the past 12 hours over the drug pricing divisions.
“Every single day I am talking to members about this issue of how you make sure that the consumer doesn’t get mugged at the pharmacy counter and we are protecting innovations,” he said.