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Most Americans disapprove of how Trump, Congress are addressing prescription drug costs, poll shows

Americans are dissatisfied with how both parties in Congress are handling the issue, with Democrats and Republicans faring almost equally poorly.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Three-quarters of Americans consider the cost of prescription drugs in the U.S. to be "unreasonable," and despite promises from President Trump and members of Congress to rein in prices, few approve of how either has handled the issue.

Based on a new national poll from the nonprofit West Health Institute, just 23 percent of the public approves of how Trump is dealing with the high cost of prescription drugs.

And Americans are also dissatisfied with how both parties in Congress are handling the issue: 20 percent approve of what Democrats in Congress are doing and 16 percent approve of the Republican approach. Roughly a third of respondents had no opinion either way.

The survey also found the high cost of healthcare is a top public policy issue for Americans. When presented with a list of six issues, 78 percent said addressing healthcare costs was their highest priority.

That's similar to the number who say the same about jobs and the economy (76 percent), and it ranks higher than national security (71 percent), the environment (63 percent), immigration (51 percent) and trade (38 percent).

High prescription drug prices are a particular worry for most Americans. Sixty-five percent said they are extremely or very concerned about the issue. Another 88 percent said lowering medication costs should be a top priority for candidates running for Congress.

When it comes to potential solutions, the survey found the most popular proposals among Americans are allowing Medicare to negotiate directly with drug companies to get lower prices, allowing more generics to compete with name brand drugs, and requiring more transparency on pricing from drug companies. Eight in 10 support each of these policies.

With the midterm elections looming, about half of Americans want Congressional candidates and President Trump to push for Medicare negotiation. Trump previously supported the idea but did not include it as part of his "Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices" released in May.

Under current law, the federal government is explicitly prohibited from negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug prices.

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service, national health spending was $3.3 trillion in 2016, with $328.6 billion going toward prescription drugs.

Twitter: @JELagasse
Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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