Older Utah voters are worried about health care and prescription drug costs, survey shows

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) - In this June 15, 2018, file photo, pharmaceuticals are seen in North Andover, Mass.

The rising costs of prescription drugs and health care could be a potent campaign issue for older voters in Utah ahead of the November elections. And according to a new survey, Utahns age 45 and above expressed support for a number of progressive policies to boost pay and reduce the influence of money in politics.

The survey from AARP Utah found 75% of Utahns either “strongly” or “somewhat” support raising the state’s minimum wage to $12/hour over a three-year period. Just 23% were opposed.

AARP Utah surveyed 701 registered voters who were 45 and older from Sept. 3 to Sept. 16.

Health care issues are important to this group of voters, according to the poll. It found that 92% said having adequate health insurance coverage was “extremely” or “very” important to them, while 89% felt having Medicare benefits available in the future was an important issue and 79% said being able to pay for prescription drugs was a concern.

The survey also found middle-aged and older Utah voters would support a number of proposals to help reduce prescription drug costs. The survey found:

• 82% said Utah should be allowed to import drugs from other countries if they can be purchased safely and less expensively.

• 86% want to cap the yearly out of pocket cost for prescription drugs.

• 92% say Utah should negotiate lower costs from drug companies by creating more bulk purchasing programs.

• 88% believe Utah should create a state drug prescription program to help individuals who may not be able to afford it pay for their prescriptions.

The survey found that 76% of this group said prescription drug companies have either “a lot” or “some” influence over Utah’s elected officials, which could present a hurdle to their preferred policies regarding prescription drugs.

Daniel Harris, associate state director of advocacy for AARP Utah, says older Utahns are an important bloc that politicians would be wise to listen to since they made up more than half of those who cast a ballot in 2018

“The top concerns facing older Utahns are their health and financial security,” he said. “The pandemic has made these issues more critical now than they have ever been.”

Other policy proposals the survey respondents expressed strong support for include raising the state’s minimum wage to $12, capping interest rates on payday loans to 36% and limiting contributions to state political campaigns.

The survey had a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.