Older New Jersey Voters Overwhelmingly Want Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices

For Immediate Release

Contact:                           

Dan Cassino 

Executive Director, FDU Poll    

973.896.7072/ dcassino@fdu.edu

 

Rachel Auerbach

AARP Associate State Director of Communications

732-354-7627 / rauerbach@aarp.org

Older New Jersey Voters Overwhelmingly Want Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices

Republicans and Democrats agree that steps must be taken to lower drug prices

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, October 6, 2021 – Lawmakers from New Jersey are playing a critical role in the fate of legislation that would allow Medicare to negotiate the price it pays for prescription drugs. While the outcome of that negotiation is unclear, the views of New Jerseyans 50 and older is not: 88 percent say that Medicare should be able to negotiate to get lower drug prices. According to a new survey from the FDU Poll, in partnership with AARP, large majorities of registered voters 50 and older also say that it is important for Congress and the President to act to reduce the cost of prescription drugs.

Every year, Medicare spends more than $129 billion on prescription drugs, but is legally prohibited from negotiating with companies to get better prices, as most developed nations do. Drug companies acknowledge that much of their profits derives from the high costs paid by Americans, but claim that they need those profits to fund research and development, a view that has been widely contested.

These views on prescription drug prices go across party lines. 92 percent of Democrats say that Medicare should be allowed to negotiate drug prices, alongside 85 percent of Republicans. Similarly, 98 percent of Democrats say that it is “very” or “somewhat” important for the President and Congress to agree on solutions this year, while 91 percent of Republicans say the same. Support for allowing Medicare to negotiate prices is high across racial and ethnic lines, as well, with 88 percent support among white, Black, and Hispanic/Latino/a voters 50 and older, and 95 percent support among Asian-American voters 50 and over.

“In a polarized political environment, there are very few issues where we get close to 90 percent agreement,” said Dan Cassino, a professor of Government and Politics at Fairleigh Dickinson University and the Executive Director of the poll. “But anything that could reduce the cost of prescription drugs is popular, no matter what party you’re in.”

Most voters 50 and older (83 percent) say that they’ve been prescribed medication in the past two years, and a quarter of NJ voters 50 and older (25 percent) say that they’ve decided not to fill at least one of their prescriptions. Respondents were asked to pick from a number of reasons why they skipped filling a prescription, and the cost of prescription was among the most commonly cited.

“It’s outrageous that we’re paying three times more than what people in other countries pay for the same drugs,” said Stephanie Hunsinger, AARP New Jersey State Director. “No one should have to choose between buying medicine or paying for their food or rent.”

 

“Our New Jersey representatives have a chance to make real change by allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices,” said Hunsinger. “Pharma is getting rich and we are getting ripped off. Enough is enough.”

 

Men and women are equally likely to have skipped a medication (25 and 26 percent, respectively), but men were more likely to say that they skipped the prescription because of concerns about cost: half (50 percent) of men who didn’t fill a prescription cited cost as a reason, compared with 41 percent of women. Democrats (53 percent of those who skipped) are also more likely than Republicans (45 percent) to say that they skipped a medication because of cost.

Aside from cost, the most frequently cited reasons why older New Jersey voters didn’t fill a prescription include not thinking they needed it (53 percent of those who had skipped a prescription) and concerns about side effects (52 percent of those who skipped).

A majority of older New Jersey voters are concerned about affording their medications in the future. Sixty-eight percent of registered voters 50 and over say that they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that they won’t be able to afford medicines they need in the future. As with other views about prescription drug prices, this is bi-partisan: 69 percent of Democrats say that they’re concerned about being able to afford drugs in the future, no different than the 67 percent of Republicans who say the same.

“Prescription drugs pricing is a complicated and fraught issue in the US,” said Cassino. “But elected officials ignore older voters at their peril: they know what they want, and they turn out to vote more than any other age group.”

Just as views about prescription drug prices cross party lines, they cross regional lines as well. Support for allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices is highest in the state’s Northeastern counties (91 percent), but is not much lower in the generally conservative southern part of the state (88 percent) or along the Atlantic Coast (86 percent).

About AARP New Jersey 

AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to empowering people 50 and older to choose how they live as they age. AARP New Jersey educates and advocates on behalf of those 50 and older on issues that are important to them, their families and to all Garden State residents. The organization works to strengthen New Jersey communities with a focus on health security, financial stability and personal fulfillment. To learn more, visit www.aarp.org/nj or follow @AARPNJ on social media. 

 

Methodology

The survey was conducted between September 27 and October 3, 2021, using a certified list of registered voters ages 50 years and older in New Jersey. Respondents were randomly chosen from the list, and contacted via live caller telephone interviews, resulting in a main sample of 802 respondents. 486 of the interviews were carried out via landline telephones, with the remainder (319) going to cellular phones.

In addition to the main sample, oversamples were conducted of African-American or Black respondents (104), Asian-American respondents (27) and Hispanic or Latino/a respondents (76). These respondents, too, were drawn from registered voters lists, and were contacted via SMS, and completed the survey via a text to web interface. Respondents in the Asian-American oversample were given the option of completing the survey in Mandarin, and respondents in the Hispanic or Latino/a were given the option to complete it in Spanish, though most completed the survey in English. 23 respondents in the Hispanic or Latino/a oversample completed the survey in Spanish, and 18 respondents in the Asian-American oversample completed it in Mandarin. As of this release, these oversamples are ongoing, and these figures may be adjusted in future releases, but because of the overall weighting scheme, and additions will have a minimal effect on the reported results for topline results of any other groupings.

These oversamples allow for more accurate comparisons between this and other groups, as well as the calculation of subgroup characteristics that would not be possible in a simple probability sample. Such oversamples necessarily require additional weighting in order to calculate population level values, but the weights used for this are not included in the calculation of design effects, as they do not indicate a divergence between the sample and the population.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of registered voters 50 and older in New Jersey. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.28.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 1007 registered voters in New Jersey is +/-3.1 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-4.0 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

 

 

 

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

1009 Registered Voters in New Jersey, ages 50 and over

Figures do not included respondents who declined to answer the demographic item in question. Figures are weighted to overall state characteristics, and so do not reflect oversamples included in the study.

 

Man                                  46%                 N = 466

Woman                             53%                 N = 533

Some Other Way            1%                  N = 4

 

50-64                                 50%                 N = 504

65-74                                 28%                 N = 282

75+                                     22%                 N = 223

 

Democrat (with leaners)              56%                 N = 529

Independent                                   12%                 N = 111

Republican (with leaners)            32%                 N = 299

 

White                                               64%                 N = 522

Black                                                15%                 N = 122

Hispanic/Latino/a                                        11%                 N = 87

Asian                                                5%                   N = 39

Other/Multi-racial                                       1%                   N = 7

 

HS or Less                                       21%                 N = 200

Some College/Vocational            27%                 N = 258

College degree or more              53%                 N = 506

 

 

 

Region Classifications

Northwest: Hunterdon, Mercer, Morris, Somerset, Sussex, and Warren Counties
Northeast: Bergen and Passaic Counties
Urban Core: Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, and Union Counties
South: Burlington, Camden, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem Counties
Coast: Atlantic, Cape May, Monmouth, and Ocean Counties

Question Wording and Order

 

PD1. Whether you actually took it or not, have you or a family member in your household been prescribed any prescription medication in the past two years?

 

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Don’t Know/Refused [VOL]

PD2. In the last two years, did you ever decide not to fill a prescription that your doctor had given you?

  1. Yes
  2. No [SKIP TO PD11]
  3. Don’t Know/Refused [VOL]

What were the reasons you didn’t fill your prescription? Please tell me any of the reasons you had.

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Don’t Know/Refused [VOL]

[Shuffle Order of Items]

PD3. Cost of Drug

PD4. Didn’t think you needed it

PD5. Side Effects of Drug

PD6. Don’t like taking prescription drugs

PD7. Taking too many drugs already

PD8. Condition Improved

PD9. Something you read or heard about the drug

PD10. Used or Looked into Other Methods of Treatment

 

PD11. Thinking about the next few years, how concerned are you about being able to afford the cost of prescription medicines that you or a family member may need?

  1. Very Concerned
  2. Somewhat Concerned
  3. Not Very Concerned
  4. Not at All Concerned
  5. Don’t Know/Refused [VOL]

PD12. Do you support or oppose allowing Medicare, the largest prescription drug purchaser in the U.S., to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices?

 

  1. Support
  2. Oppose
  3. Not Sure [VOL]
  4. Don’t Know/Refused [VOL]

PD13. How important is it for the president and Congress to agree on solutions to lower prescription drug prices this year?

  1. Very Important
  2. Somewhat Important
  3. Not Very Important
  4. Not at all Important
  5. Don’t Know/Refused [Vol]

Further items to be released at a later date

 

 

Release Tables

 

 

 

 

 

Region

 

 

Allow Medicare, to negotiate with drug companies

Overall

Northwest

Northeast

Urban Core

South

Coast

Support

88

87

91

85

88

86

Oppose

4

5

4

5

5

4

Don’t Know/Refused

8

8

5

10

7

10

 

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

Allow Medicare, to negotiate with drug companies

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Asian

Support

88

88

88

88

95

Oppose

4

4

3

6

5

Don’t Know/Refused

8

8

9

7

0

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Party ID

 

Allow Medicare, to negotiate with drug companies

Overall

Men

Women

Dem

Indp

Rep

Support

88

90

86

92

82

85

Oppose

4

4

4

2

6

6

Don’t Know/Refused

8

6

10

6

12

9

 

 

 

 

 

Race/Ethnic

 

How important is it for the president and Congress to lower prescription drug prices this year?

Overall

White

Black

Hisp/Lat

Asian

Very Important

71

68

92

85

54

Somewhat Important

23

25

5

12

41

Not Very Important

3

4

1

1

5

Not At All Important

2

2

1

2

0

Don’t Know/Refused

1

1

1

0

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Party ID

 

How important is it for the president and Congress to lower prescription drug prices this year?

Overall

Men

Women

Democrats

Independents

Republicans

Very Important

71

68

72

79

60

61

Somewhat Important

23

26

21

19

29

30

Not Very Important

3

3

3

1

6

5

Not At All Important

2

2

2

0

3

3

Don’t Know/Refused

1

1

2

1

2

1

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Party ID

 

Whether you actually took it or not, have you or a family member in your household been prescribed any prescription medication in the past two years?

Overall

Men

Women

Dem

Indp

Rep

Yes

83

81

84

83

76

87

No

16

18

15

16

23

13

Don’t Know/Refused

1

1

1

1

1

0

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Party ID

 

In the last two years, did you ever decide not to fill a prescription that your doctor had given you?

Overall

Men

Women

Dem

Indp

Rep

Yes

25

25

26

24

22

30

No

74

74

73

75

76

70

Don’t Know/Refused

1

1

1

0

2

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Party ID

 

What were the reasons you didn’t fill your prescription?

Overall

Men

Women

Dem

Indp

Rep

Cost of Drug

44

50

41

53

24

45

Didn’t Think You Needed It

53

61

46

54

44

53

Side Effects of Drug

52

47

56

44

60

64

Don’t like taking prescription drugs

37

38

36

32

44

42

Taking Too Many Drugs Already

26

38

18

31

15

25

Condition Improved

54

62

47

53

52

54

Something you read or heard about the drug

37

40

36

36

38

42

Used or Looked into Other Methods of Treatment

48

51

47

45

55

49

 

 

 

 

 

Region

 

 

Concerned about being able to afford the cost of prescription medicines

Overall

Northwest

Northeast

Urban Core

South

Coast

Very Concerned

36

32

33

35

38

36

Somewhat Concerned

32

22

35

30

31

23

Not Very Concerned

15

19

13

18

17

20

Not At All Concerned

16

27

19

16

14

19

Don’t Know/Refused

1

0

0

1

0

2

 

 

 

Sex

 

 

Party ID

 

Concerned about being able to afford the cost of prescription medicines

Overall

Men

Women

Democrats

Independents

Republicans

Very Concerned

36

35

36

37

33

33

Somewhat Concerned

32

35

30

32

40

34

Not Very Concerned

15

13

17

15

12

16

Not At All Concerned

16

16

15

15

13

16

Don’t Know/Refused

1

1

2

1

2

1

 

 

go to what’s new