Polling shows that drug prices and health care affordability are the top issues for Americans. Mitch McConnell is blocking legislation to address both.
The top concerns for American voters going into the 2020 elections are health care affordability and drug costs, according to a new poll. But legislation from the House of Representatives to address these concerns is currently being blocked in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his GOP majority.
The Politico-Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health survey, released Wednesday, found about 80% of those surveyed identified "taking steps to lower the cost of health care” as either "very" or "extremely" important. Reducing prescription drug costs was deemed "very" or "extremely" important by 75%. The two issues ranked as the highest priorities for voters out of 22 possible issues.
Last May, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed H.R. 987, the Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act. It included provisions to stop the Trump administration's sabotage of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), help fund state health insurance marketplaces, and improve transparency.
In December, it passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. That legislation would implement an unkept Donald Trump campaign promise to let the federal government negotiate with pharmaceutical companies on the cost of prescription drugs for Medicare, restrict price hikes, and limit out-of-pocket costs.
But now they are among the more than 400 House-passed pieces of legislation that are being blocked in the Senate by Majority Leader McConnell. In an interview last week, he made it clear that he would not even allow votes on these and other items sitting on his desk.
"They've been on full left-wing parade over there, trotting out all of their left-wing solutions that are going to be issues in the fall campaign," McConnell told Fox News. "We're not gonna pass those."
Asked whether he would allow any action on prescription drugs this year, McConnell said only that the Senate was "wrestling with that."
In the weeks immediately following McConnell's announcement last year that he would block any consideration of the House prescription drug bill, he received more than $50,000 contributions from individual and PACs connected to the pharmaceutical industry.
Meanwhile, the number of uninsured Americas rose by about two million people in 2018 — the first year-to-year increase in a decade — even amid what Trump has called the "greatest economy in the history of our country." And a September 2019 survey by Consumer Reports found that 30% of Americans who currently use prescription medications saw out-of-pocket costs increase in the past year.