As the leaves turn to fall colors, social media is being inundated with discussions about the November elections on a variety of issues.  Two recent polls, one asking 1,032 U.S. physicians and the second focused upon the general public, reflect the strong opinions interested voters hold on a number of health care issues in this election year.

SERMO poll

The first highlighted poll, SERMO, a leading global social network exclusively for physicians, surveyed its network of U.S. physicians on crucial health care issues for the 2016 November election and discovered doctors are taking part in political discussions on topics ranging from EpiPen prices to gun policy every day. As we delve into SERMO’s recent poll of U.S. physicians on health care issues facing the next administration, we discover that the issues of great importance to physicians include:

  • Physicians are split on whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA);
  • 56 percent of physicians believe the government should stop allowing drug companies to make deals with generic drug makers that delay generic competition;
  • 43 percent of doctors polled support a broader use of interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) across state lines.

Affordable Care Act

With the ACA under scrutiny again this election season, a SERMO poll found that doctors are split 50/50 on whether they want the next president to keep the ACA implemented or repeal it completely. However, physicians are in agreement across the board that consumer’s health care options should not be limited by state. If the ACA were to be kept in place during the next president’s term, 63 percent of physicians would want consumers to be able to purchase insurance across state lines. Furthermore, 62 percent of responding physicians support a proposed nationwide marketplace that would allow consumers in all 50 states to shop for health insurance, instead of each state having its own exchange.

Prescription Drug Pricing

The recent spikes in the price of prescription drugs, fueled mostly by the Epi-Pen price increase, have resulted in contentious political debates. Eighty-nine percent of physicians agreed that the FDA should expedite generic drug applications for competing products when the original drug has significantly jumped in price. When asked to select the best option from a list of proposals on the issue, doctors selected the following:

  • 33 percent supported creating a regulatory panel to monitor and respond to unjustified price hikes;
  • 24 percent want to speed up FDA review of generic drugs 
  • 20 percent would allow importation of similar drugs 
  • 14 percent are fine with companies that excessively raise prices on existing drugs; and
  • 9 percent state that it is not the government’s place to intervene.

Opioid Abuse

Curbing the prescription drug and heroin abuse epidemics have become a key issue in races at the federal, state, and local levels. Forty-three percent of physicians believe a broader use of interoperable Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) across state lines would be the most effective option. An overwhelming 81 percent of physicians agreed that awareness campaigns to educate the public about Naloxone, which blocks or reverses the effects of opioid medication, would be the most important step in the fight against opioid abuse. By contrast, only seven percent of physicians believed increased access to Naloxone for those at risk for overdose would be the top priority, and when asked whether Naloxone should be available over the counter, doctors were split 50/50.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll

With less than six weeks before the November elections, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation September Health Tracking Poll found health care issues and the candidates’ respective policy to be very important to voters in determining their support. Mimicking the SERMO polls’ findings on the opinion of the Affordable Care Act by physicians, the Kaiser Health Tracking survey discovered Americans are basically split on their opinion of the Affordable Care Act with 47% of those polled holding an unfavorable view of the historic legislation. In fact, the Affordable Care Act was rated the most important health care issue by two-thirds of those surveyed.

Meanwhile, Kaiser highlighted the public’s concern about the expenses associated with prescription drugs, with 77% considering prescription drug prices as unreasonable. Finally, 43% of the respondents expressed concern about the growing opioid epidemic and would consider the candidates’ policy to address the crisis when determining their November vote.