A push to expand Maryland’s ability to control prescription drug prices released a poll Thursday that advocates said shows strong support for the effort in swing legislative districts.
Voters in the 8th and 38th Districts indicated significant support for measures expected to be introduced in the state legislature next year aimed at reducing the price of prescription drugs. The polling was conducted by OpinionWorks for the Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative.
“I think it really boosts our chances of getting this enacted,” said Vincent DeMarco, president of the initiative. “A lot of people will really think about the impact of an issue like this in key swing districts.”
Under DeMarco’s proposed legislation, Maryland would require pharmaceutical companies to notify the public and justify pricing decisions for drugs, create a Maryland Prescripiton Drug Cost Review Commission similar to the Health Services Cost Review Commission and require prescription drug plans to allow pharmacists to tell consumers about lower-cost drug options.
Last month, when DeMarco unveiled his plan, he released statewide polling suggesting significant support for the proposal across the political spectrum.
Thursday’s poll shows that support goes down to the district level, in districts chosen as swing districts. A polling memo from OpinionWorks said that the districts were chosen because they are represented by Democrats in the Senate and include Republicans in their House delegations.
District 8, in Baltimore County, is represented by Sen. Katherine Klausmeier and two of its delegates are Republicans. District 38 covers the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and is represented by Sen. James N. Mathias, Jr. All three of the districts delegates are Republican.
OpinionWorks polled 267 registered voters in District 8 and 236 registered voters in District 38 from Dec. 14-26. Respondents were interviewed by live interviewers on both cell phones and landlines. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.3 percentage points.
In both districts the results were similar to the statewide polling. In both districts more than 80 percent of respondents supported price increase notification. Seventy-seven percent of voters in District 8 and 85 percent of voters in District 38 supported a drug cost review commission. Around 65 percent of voters in both districts supported allowing pharmacists more freedom to inform consumers about different options.
The polling also suggested that support for the legislation could have an impact on state Senate races in the districts, just as the statewide polling showed it could affect the governor race.
In District 8, Klausmeier was polled against her declared opponent, Del. Christian Miele. The poll showed a 16-point margin of support for Klausmeier. Her lead grew to 41 percent if she supported the legislation. Miele took a 35-point lead if he supported the legislation.
A similar trend occurred in District 38. Mathias has a 10-point lead if the election were held today. His lead increases to 34 points if he supports the legislation, but his opponent, Del. Mary Beth Carozza, takes a 21-point lead if she supports the legislation.
DeMarco hopes that the polling allows the legislation to pass with similar support to the prescription price gouging bill passed last year.
“I think this is very important for us in achieving our goal of getting this enacted next year,” he said. “I think legislators from both parties will see that the voters really want this. The voters really want to build from the bill that passed last session.”