Democrats Should Talk About Costs, Not Fairness, to Sell Drug Pricing to Voters

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Washington’s political conversation is usually framed in terms of a spectrum. It’s a straight-line with poles at one end which are hard-wired opposites. Team Blue on the left and Team Red on the right. The reality is that the chatter could be described as a loop. With the far ends twisting back at themselves like a lasso. The far-left and far-right voices eventually meet in a strange spot, where Rand Paul fans find common ground with The Squad.
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It’s often at the knot between the two ends of that scale that we find some of the loudest voices on any given issue: foreign aid, vaccine mandates, the surveillance state. Right now Congress is ConsiderSpending a lot PacketLegislators have debated a topic on which all political parties agree, namely that drug prices are too expensive.

It seems that everyone in Washington agrees on drug pricing as a sweet spot. These sentiments are based on different motives: Liberals seek to increase access and reduce the influence of big pharma; conservatives desire to protect medical freedom. See drug prices separated from pure capitalism. However, everyone can come together to achieve the same goal. Nobody is excited about securing a paycheck for acid reflux treatment or migraine prevention.

It is a package that aims to lower drug prices and end the prohibition against federal officials negotiating directly with pharmaceutical companies. A DealOriginally agreed upon by Democrats, Medicare would have the right to bargain directly with drug companies about the price of 10 of the most costly drugs. This will be done before 2025. This would bring the total number of drugs to 20, doubling their current level. It was three years later. The eligibility criteria would only apply to established drugs, which must be on the market for at least 9 years. That gives pharmaceutical companies almost a decade without restrictions. Under the pretense of helping newcomer inventors, start-up biotech businesses would be exempted.

Private insurance policy holders would see their drug expenses tied to inflation. There will not be any spikes in costs when a new drug is popular. Seniors, meanwhile, would have a $2,000 cap on what they’d be responsible for at the pharmacy.

Democrats have worked for many years to eliminate drug companies from the political landscape. In the current environment of woke capitalism, they’re an easy target for lawmakers in Washington to come after. Drugs, after all, aren’t luxury goods. They’re necessary. They are necessary. And it is wrong for government to grant them an exemption in ways that few industries can enjoy. This just seems to be the view of far-left elements of the Democratic Party, which has flirted with socialism.

It turns out, maybe that messaging isn’t working. New Polling, provided exclusively to TIME from centrist think tank Third Way, suggests the way the conversation is framed matters more than you’d think. A poll of 1000 likely voters SeptemberNo matter their political affiliation, the cost of healthcare was their greatest concern. Nearly 40% Cited respondents healthcareCosts as TheThe biggest flaw In the system

What didn’t seem to bother people much? Fairness. That’s right. The point at which the extreme-left and the far right tines of the political fork intersect is often seen as an objection against a system that discriminates against consumers. But a meager 18% of respondents to the Third Way poll say profits were what’s wrong with the system. Grievance isn’t the most grievous of problems.

If you look deeper, there are other reasons Democrats may want to reconsider their approach on drug pricing in twin infrastructure projects parked in Congress. In fact, there’s a 12-point gap in two competing reasons to address healthcare; lowering costs draws the support of 72% of respondents while making things fair wins backing from 60%.

“This is kitchen table economics and it’s not a morality play,” says Jim Kessler, a co-founder of Third Way and its policy chief who is advising the Hill on messaging on the twin bills. “Those are winning messages, especially on healthcare. You’re going to keep the exact same system, but you’re going to get some help with costs.”

The chatter of the purple knot may feel the most passionate when it comes to justice and the weeding out of the capitalist exploiters. People just want their money. The popularity of protections from healthcare bankruptcy suggests that people are afraid to lose everything due to hospital visits. Capitalism may well be exploitative but it’s tough to argue that a few extra bucks in the bank can make falling asleep easier at the end of the day.

As Congress prepares to discuss drug prices as part of its infrastructure negotiations, legislators can take comfort in the fact that all political parties agree on the need for lower costs. And they don’t really care if it’s done in a fair way — as long as their savings doesn’t take a hit every 90 days.

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