A new ad for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, released by her campaign Saturday, set its sights on insurance companies by highlighting Clinton's efforts to improve healthcare for Americans and bring down the cost of drugs. The ad is airing in New Hampshire and Iowa, STAT reported.
"Something is wrong with our healthcare system, and it needs to be fixed," a younger version of Clinton says in the first half of the 30-second ad. Fast forward to today, and the fight to improve healthcare is about preventing Republicans from repealing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and "about ... taking on insurance companies to bring down drug prices," the narrator says. You can watch the ad below.
Both Clinton and her fellow Democratic contender Bernie Sanders have called for reining in prescription drug prices. On her campaign website, Clinton calls for reducing the cost of prescription drugs, noting, "Prescription drug spending accelerated from 2.5 percent in 2013 to 12.6 percent in 2014." She also took to Twitter in September to excoriate the lack of transparency in drug pricing, after Turing Pharmaceuticals bought a drug and hiked the price overnight from $13.50 per pill to $750.
Clinton subsequently laid out a platform for lowering prescription drug costs, charging pharmaceutical companies had exorbitant profit margins and charged Americans far more than they did people in other countries for the same drugs. Her plan promised to "demand a stop to excessive profiteering and marketing by denying tax breaks for direct-to-consumer advertising and demanding that drug companies invest in R&D in exchange for taxpayer support -- rather than marketing or excessive profits."
But other elements of her approach do not target insurance companies quite so directly. She also vowed to put caps on prescription drug costs for Americans with chronic health conditions -- something that would affect drug companies nonetheless -- and to increase competition for prescription drugs, including specialty ones like biologics, and allow drugs to be imported into the U.S. from abroad.
Drug companies have long maintained that they need to charge high prices in order to fund research and development for new drugs. But critics often point to disproportionate profits and executive compensation at these pharmaceutical companies as proof that drugs are simply overpriced. Others criticize the government for doing too little to bring down the price of drugs. In Europe, governments have the power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies over prices; in the U.S., the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, or CMS, is expressly forbidden from doing so.
In August, a nationwide poll by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation found that 72 percent of Americans thought that drug costs were unreasonable and that 74 percent felt that pharmaceutical companies put profits before patients.