A new national poll finds that a majority of likely voters overwhelmingly support policies that regulate health insurance middlemen companies known as Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs), requiring them to provide more value and help lower drug costs.
PBMs act as middlemen between drug manufacturers and patients’ health plans who – instead of lowering drug costs as they initially promised – take advantage of the healthcare system to increase their revenues at the expense of local pharmacies, taxpayers and patients. Three PBM companies control 75% of the market.
The poll, conducted by the bipartisan polling team of Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Research, found that 84% of likely voters say it’s important or very important to have rules that require PBMs to provide value and lower drug costs for consumers. Respondents said they want elected officials to take on the issue of regulating PBMs, with 73% saying it should be a high or top priority for Congress and their state legislatures. What’s more, 72% say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports regulating PBMs.
Respondents support a number of specific policies to regulate PBMs, including:
- Requiring PBMs to pass discounts to patients that they get from negotiating with drug manufacturers (82% support)
- Change how PBMs profit so it’s not connected to the price of prescription drugs, and they are not incentivized to drive up prices (81% support)
- Introduce more transparency into PBMs’ contracts and the drug pricing process (81% support)
- Require that insurance plans pay PBMs only a simple flat fee for their services, prohibiting PBMs from charging additional fees that ultimately get passed on to patients (80% support)
The poll also found high levels of concern about the negative impacts that PBMs have on patients, including:
- PBMs driving up the cost of prescription drug prices (79% concerned or very concerned)
- PBMs holding a monopoly on the prescription drug market (78% concerned or very concerned)
- Little oversight or regulation of PBMs (78% concerned or very concerned)
- PBMs decide which drugs are available to consumers (78% concerned or very concerned)
Mark Blum is Executive Director of America’s Agenda: Health Care for All. He also serves as Managing Director of the America’s Agenda Healthcare Education Fund. Under Blum’s direction, America’s Agenda has achieved an unrivaled record of success in building and winning statewide, comprehensive, healthcare reform campaigns. Blum is a recognized expert on innovative solutions to address the rising cost of healthcare. He currently serves on the State Health Benefits Value and Quality Task Force in New Jersey. He has also served as a special advisor on hospital finances to leadership of the California legislature. Internationally, Blum has served as advisor to Cambodian textile workers organizing the first labor unions in their country’s history. After completing graduate studies at the London School of Economics, Blum served as an economics professor and president of the faculty senate of the College of Insurance (now at St. John’s University) in New York City. There he organized his first college faculty union before moving on to become National Director of Organizing for the American Association of University Professors. Blum was the first male ever elected to the Board of Directors of the American Medical Women’s Association.
About the PBM Accountability Project: The PBM Accountability Project brings together leaders and stakeholders across healthcare, labor, business, pharmacy and consumer patient advocacy to help ensure that patients and our private and public sector health plans aren’t overpaying for the prescription medicines we need. Our organization is working to educate the public and advance solutions to help redirect prescription drug savings from very high PBM profits back to patients, employee health plans and taxpayers. To learn more about the PBM Accountability Project, visit pbmaccountability.org.
Listen to Mark Blum and Mark Alyn here: