A high-stakes exam for healthcare leadership

A high-stakes exam for healthcare leadership
This spring, the Trump administration released its "American Patients First" blueprint — a sweeping plan to drive down prescription drug costs.

The Department of Health and Human Services quickly issued a formal "request for information," seeking feedback from patients, doctors, insurers, hospitals, drug manufacturers, and every other participant in the healthcare ecosystem.

Those responses are due July 16. One can only hope that healthcare groups offer their advice in good faith. The proposed reforms are some of the most dynamic and disruptive ideas to circulate Washington in years — they deserve an honest debate.

The blueprint and request for information make it clear that the healthcare status quo is no longer acceptable. It calls on brand-name drug manufacturers to facilitate the creation of more generic drugs by ceasing the legal shenanigans that prevent quicker development programs.

Manufacturers also have to come to the table ready to discuss the real problems with the CREATES Act, and work to actually solve them.

It also rightly demands that pharmacy benefit managers (perhaps the most problematic of all the actors) put patients ahead of profits. They can start by passing more of the discounts that they extract from drug manufacturers (which totaled $130 billion in 2016) to patients in the forms of lower co-pays and co-insurance.

And they can build on that progress by not using restrictive formularies, co-pay accumulators, and prior authorization to pad their own pockets. If they're not willing to accept fiduciary responsibility for their actions, they'll have to prepare for Uncle Sam to take away their anti-kickback exemption.

 
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