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Many older voters still don’t know about Biden’s signature drug price efforts, though awareness has grown

By Tami Luhby, CNN

(CNN) — President Joe Biden is campaigning heavily on his efforts to lower health care costs, particularly for senior citizens, but his message may have yet to break through with many people in this key voting bloc.

Many older voters remain unaware of the major provisions in the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act that aim to lower drug costs for Medicare enrollees, according to a new KFF poll released Wednesday. This comes even though the president and others in the administration have highlighted the measures repeatedly, including in new ads running this week.

Winning the support of senior citizens, a large and reliable voting group, will be important in November’s presidential election. A number of polls show older voters are closely split between Biden and former President Donald Trump this year, with some giving Biden the edge – even though older Americans have favored Republicans in recent presidential elections.

The KFF poll found that 48% of voters ages 65 and older are aware that Medicare has the power to negotiate the price of some prescription drugs. One bright spot for Biden is that share is up from 36% in November.

Only 40% of older voters know there’s a federal law that places an annual limit on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare enrollees, up from 27% in November. And 15% of older voters are aware of the law that penalizes drug companies for increasing prices faster than inflation for those with Medicare coverage, up from 9% in November.

Even when it comes to the $35 monthly cap on insulin costs for Medicare enrollees, one of Biden’s most touted provisions that kicked in last year, only 52% of older voters are aware of the provision, roughly the same as in November.

Some of the Inflation Reduction Act measures have yet to fully take effect, which may account for some of the lack of awareness. Medicare is in the midst of negotiating with drugmakers. The final prices will be released by September and won’t take effect until January 2026.

The annual $2,000 out-of-pocket cap on drug costs kicks in next year, though a more limited cap began in January.

The KFF poll also found that large majorities of overall voters of both parties support extending several of the Inflation Reduction Act drug provisions to all adults with health insurance – which is what Biden has proposed.

Trusting Biden on health care

When it comes to trusting a candidate on health care issues, Biden ranks much higher than Trump among independent voters, another key group in the presidential election, according to the KFF poll.

They trust Biden more to determine the future of the Affordable Care Act, ensure access to affordable health insurance and maintain protections for people with preexisting conditions by a 2-to-1 margin. Independent voters also trust Biden far more to determine the future of Medicare and Medicaid.

As for addressing high health care costs, Biden has a narrower advantage over Trump, though about a third of independent voters don’t trust either candidate.

Among all voters, however, fewer than half say it’s “very” or “somewhat” likely that Biden’s policies would lower prescription drug costs if he were reelected, while about 4 in 10 say the same about Trump.

Older voters have more faith in Biden than Trump to determine the future of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. About half say they trust Biden more, while about a third trust Trump more.

Voters overall are mixed in terms of who they trust more to handle the fate of these programs, KFF found.

One Biden health care proposal that has a majority of support among voters of all parties is extending the enhanced federal premium subsidies for Affordable Care Act coverage, which are set to expire at the end of next year. Some 90% of Democratic voters, 73% of independent voters and 57% of Republican voters support extending the beefed-up subsidies, which were enacted as part of the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan Act in 2021.

Abortion policy

Some 62% of voters support guaranteeing a federal right to abortion, in line with Biden’s views. And about 42% want to leave it up to individual states to decide whether abortion would be legal within their borders, as Trump has advocated.

Looking at voters’ views by party, 89% of Democratic voters and 62% of independent voters support a federal guarantee. Some 6 in 10 Republican voters would leave it up to the states, the KFF poll found.

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