Talking Points: 6 February 2023

A quick roundup of the issues driving the healthcare reform conversation.

Item of the Week

Week in Review

COVID PHE The coronavirus public health emergency gets a May end date.

Quick takeaway: Last week, the Administration signaled that it would be ending the COVID public health emergency (PHE) on May 11. 

Further context: Since it was initially declared back in January 2020 (under the previous Administration), the PHE has been renewed a dozen times.

What it means: Numerous flexibilities and allowances were granted under the PHE, all with an eye on ensuring Americans were able to access the healthcare they needed throughout the ongoing public health crisis.  Now, with the PHE drawing to a close, stakeholders across the healthcare industry are working together to make sure Americans are aware of their options.

US HEALTH The US spends more on healthcare than other countries – but, gets worse health outcomes.

Quick takeaway: In its latest report comparing healthcare in this country to the rest of the world, the Commonwealth Fund found that the US continues to outspend other high-income nations, while also continuing to have some of the lowest health outcomes compared to those countries.

Further context: Among the takeaways from the report:

  • Healthcare spending in the US – both, on a per person basis and as a share of GDP – is the highest among the countries in the report.
  • The US has the lowest life expectancy at birth, the highest death rate for treatable or avoidable conditions, and the highest rates of maternal and infant mortality.  It also ranks among the highest for suicide rates.
  • In addition to having the highest rate of people with multiple chronic conditions, the US also has an obesity rate nearly twice the average among countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

What it means: Researchers also pointed out that people in the US see doctors less often than those in most countries, likely owing to this country having a below-average number of practicing physicians.

In order to improve our standing on the global health stage, researchers go on to say that the US needs to expand access to healthcare, act aggressively to control costs, and make greater investments in health equity and social services.

AFFORDABLE FUTURE A new policy platform focuses on advancing solutions to rising prescription drug costs.

Quick takeaway: So much of the conversation surrounding out-of-control drug costs seems to be focused on who’s to blame – largely owing to Big Pharma’s continued efforts to shift attention away from the responsibility that they alone bear in setting prices for these drugs in the first place.

Further context: However, last week, the trade association representing pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) released a new policy platform designed to recalibrate the evolving conversation by advancing actionable solutions aimed at enhancing a more competitive prescription drug market.

What it means: This vision of an “Affordable Future” offered up by the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association (PCMA), focuses on three key ways to achieve a more functional, equitable, and affordable market for prescription drugs:

  1. Ensure system sustainability by promoting competition
  2. Support and equip clinicians with tools and data to most effectively serve patients
  3. Enhance patient outcomes and improve the patient experience


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