Three out of four Colorado voters back a bill working its way through the General Assembly that seeks to lower prescription drug costs with a board that could set price limits on expensive medications, according to a new poll from Keating Research released Monday.
The poll – commissioned by Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, Good Business Colorado, the National MS Society and Centennial State Prosperity and conducted between April 20 and 26 – shows broad support for the concept of Senate Bill 21-175 across party, region and age.
That bill would create the Prescription Drug Affordability Board, a five-member panel appointed by Gov. Jared Polis that would research, review and establish payment limits for drugs deemed unaffordable. The governor has previously spoken in support of the measure.
Of the 528 active voters who were asked about “a proposal that would create a state board of appointed healthcare experts who would analyze and act to lower the cost of certain prescription drugs,” 74% said they were supportive, with 42% of the overall sample in the “strongly support” category.
The concept of a prescription drug board was backed by majorities in each party, including by 89% of Democrats, 60% of Republicans and 74% of unaffiliated voters. Democrats made up 30% of the sample with Republicans making up 27% and unaffiliated voters rounding out the remaining 42%.
The poll also found widespread support across the four regions it grouped voters into, including:
Denver and Boulder counties, where 79% were supportive;
Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Douglas, and Jefferson counties, suburbs where the poll found 73% support;
Front Range Larimer, Weld, Pueblo, and El Paso counties, where 76% of voters indicated they were supportive;
And the state’s remaining 53 counties, rural areas where the poll found 68% support.
The poll, which has a plus-or-minus 4.3% margin of error at the 95% confidence level, skewed slightly toward the suburban counties, which made up 38% of the sample. The Front Range counties were the next largest group in the sample with 26%, followed by Denver and Boulder with 19% and the rural counties at 17%.
Support for the proposal by age ranged from 68% on the low end, from those between 35-49, and 80% on the high end, from 50-64-year-olds.
The results match with a poll released by CCCHI earlier this year that found 77% of respondents supported a state board of appointed healthcare experts that would work to lower the cost of prescription drugs. After hearing arguments against the board, over 70% of respondents to that poll still supported it.
Since that poll, which was conducted last December and released in January, Sens. Sonya Jaquez Lewis, D-Longmont, and Julie Gonzales, D-Denver, and Reps. Yadira Caraveo, D-Thornton, and Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, introduced SB 175. The bill has cleared the Senate Health and Human Services Committee as well as the chamber’s Appropriations Committee and is scheduled for consideration before the full chamber on Tuesday.
It faces opposition from Republican lawmakers, who voted against it in both committees and have previously express concerns that it would impact the pharmaceutical industry’s research and development capacity.
The bill also drew opposition from the industry. A spokesman for Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America the trade group representing the pharmaceutical industry, in a statement to Colorado Politics in March said, “Creating a board of unelected bureaucrats with the authority to arbitrarily decide what medicines are worth and what medicines patients can get would be a disaster for patients.
“While Colorado policymakers are attempting to brand this government board as way to make medicines more affordable, there is no guarantee that the policy would provide any sort of meaningful savings for patients,” said Nick McGee, PhRMA’s senior director of public affairs. “Even more, in practice, this policy could make it more difficult for individuals to access the medicines they need now and in the future and could lead to discrimination against seniors, those with disabilities and the chronically ill.”