Last year, U.S. spending on prescription drugs was at a record breaking $425 billion before discounts, and is expected to rise by 22% annually over the next five years, which is 400%, or over $600 billion by 2020. As Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, Americans across the country concerned with the soaring costs of prescription medications, will be looking to President Trump and Congress for solutions to address this national crisis.
President-Elect Trump’s top priority for healthcare reform is to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but most Americans are more concerned about prescription drug prices than Obamacare. A recent Kaiser Health Tracking Poll found that nearly 74 percent of Americans agree that a top priority for the next president and Congress should be to ensure that drugs for chronic health conditions are affordable for patients. Additionally, 63 percent believe that the federal government’s top priority should be to lower the cost of prescription medications. Last week, President-Elect Trump released a brief healthcare plan on his transition website. While the newest healthcare plan does not include prescription drug pricing, during the campaign Mr. Trump declared support for allowing Americans to import lower cost medications as part of his 7-point healthcare plan. Although not noted on that plan, President-Elect Trump voiced support for Medicare drug price negotiations during his campaign.
Referring to the pharmaceutical industry, his campaign healthcare plan stated that “Congress will need the courage to step away from the special interests and do what is right for America.” Personal drug importation is an issue that has large bi-partisan support from the American public. A September 2016 Kaiser Health Tracking poll shows that 70% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats favor allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada. Additionally, over 80 percent of Americans across varying age groups and party lines strongly support Medicare negotiating drug prices with pharmaceutical companies.
In 2014, the prescription drug bill for the approximately 54 million Americans with Medicare was $143 billion. Even at that level of expenditure, over two million seniors don’t fill prescriptions each year because of drug costs, on top of millions more who are struggling to fill their prescriptions. The majority of Americans (83%) across party lines support the Federal government negotiating for lower drug prices through Medicare Part D. With Medicare’s substantial purchasing power, the Federal government could reduce Medicare spending without shifting costs to beneficiaries.
The new Administration and Congress will need to implement bold action such as increasing access through personal drug importation and Medicare drug price negotiations to combat the skyrocketing costs and bring relief to the millions of struggling Americans who cannot afford their prescription medications.