It’s no secret that we’re living through a particularly heated period in American politics, and Arizona is a perfect example of the partisan divide facing the nation. In the 2020 presidential election, the Grand Canyon State was decided by a mere 10,475 votes, or 0.3 of a point, transforming political spectators across the country into Arizona election law experts and avid consumers of Maricopa County polling data.
However, drug pricing reform has cut through the thick partisan atmosphere and emerged as a rare subject of agreement between Republicans and Democrats.
Voters across the country are pushing back against the absurdly high cost of drugs with a uniquely unified voice. In our current political landscape, issues are often divided strictly along party lines, and arguments are neatly packaged into quippy talking points to be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
However, even the brutal rhetoric clogging social media and the war of words between partisan politicians have proven ineffective at dividing everyday Americans struggling to afford their medications.
It’s not just national polling numbers skewed by dark blue states that prove voters are simply sick and tired of paying a premium for their prescriptions. Even in the country’s most divided states, support for lowering the cost of drugs has incredible support across the political spectrum.
One recently released survey found that a majority of voters in key battleground states, including Arizona, support drug pricing reform. Remarkably, the survey found that eighty-seven percent of Arizona voters support allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies for lower prices.
This data isn’t just some blip on the radar or a result of poor polling — it’s the culmination of decades-long abuse suffered by the American public at the hands of drug giants. Over the years, the pharmaceutical industry has artificially inflated the cost of prescription drugs and passed those prices onto consumers looking to fill their prescriptions.
A recently released report demonstrated that the price of prescription drugs has skyrocketed at double the rate of inflation, spiking the cost of healthcare for the 66% of Americans who have to fill at least one prescription.
While the price of drugs is a major issue nationally, the effects of the high cost of medications are felt acutely here in Arizona, where over nine billion dollars were spent in 2019 alone on prescription drugs and over two million Arizonans reported they didn’t seek treatment for a health problem due to the cost.
Recently, politicians have finally started to listen to their constituents – making efforts to lower the cost of drugs. During the last administration, a flurry of reform bills flew around the Senate, including a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
Drug pricing reformers have been buoyed by recent remarks from President Biden, who asked his colleagues in Congress to prioritize drug pricing reform.
Achieving prescription drug pricing reform (allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices) has been out of reach for decades because the drug company lobby is so powerful that meaningful reform has been impossible.
It looks like there is finally a critical mass of support in Congress and the President to deliver widely supported reform. However, any meaningful movement on the drug pricing reform front will require the support of Kyrsten Sinema.
In the past, Senator Sinema has proven herself to be a maverick of her own in the Senate, working tirelessly to promote policies popular with both red and blue voters, and in the coming months, she’ll have the opportunity to unite Republicans and Democrats in Arizona and across the country by delivering relief to those suffering from high prescription prices.
The time is now for drug pricing reform, specifically, allowing Medicare to finally negotiate drug prices. Senator Sinema has a chance to continue leading on issues that are best for Arizona and the Country and we applaud her for doing so.
Will Humble is the Executive Director for the Arizona Public Health Association and former Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.