This Week in Health Care Reform - January 15th, 2016
Drug manufacturers start the year off on a sour note; after their latest attempt at repeal gets vetoed, some wonder where the GOP goes from here on health care reform; digital trends point to a bright future for telehealth; and, the President delivers his final State of the Union address.
Week in Review
Rx Price Hikes: A new analysis reports that overall prescription drug prices increased by more than 10 percent last year, well in excess of the rate of inflation. Performed by Truveris, a health care data company that specializes in tracking drug prices, the research found an uptick in prices across nearly every class of drugs, e.g., branded drugs (14.77 percent), specialty drugs (9.21 percent), generic drugs (2.93 percent – alarming, given that, historically, these drugs tend to get cheaper over time). And, quickly dashing any hope that that spike was less trend and more anomaly, drugmakers kicked off 2016 with a new round of hefty price increases for scores of medicines, some by as much as 10 percent. Regardless of their justification (the cost of research), the true cost to patients has become increasingly desperate, as each subsequent price hike leaves these critical treatments further out of reach. Given the Byzantine nature of drug pricing determinations, the aggressively acerbic response of the industry, and the perceived lack of urgency on the part of lawmakers, it’s unclear what can be done to address this pressing issue. Unfortunately, as drug prices continue their upward trajectory, the threat to our entire health care system grows unchecked.
GOP Plan: As expected, late last week the President vetoed Republicans’ latest attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act. While the process unfolded pretty much as anticipated, GOP party hard-liners argue that there’s a political victory to be claimed amidst the ashes of the veto. Still, some wonder if Republicans will ever break free from this cycle, especially with no clear plan of attack having been mapped out.
Telehealth Priority: Across a variety of health care settings, telehealth has demonstrated its ability to increase access, while improving care coordination. Whether it’s enhancing patients’ connectivity with providers or reducing the logistical barriers that so often keep people from seeking out the care they need, telehealth continues to pave the way forward for our health care system. With lawmakers having recognized the value on offer of promoting its widespread adoption, digital health care seems poised to break out in a big way.
SOTU: On Tuesday, the President delivered the State of the Union address to Congress and the country. As pundits and experts continue the work of dissecting and parsing over his every word, many viewed the speech – his last in office – as a foundational cornerstone in what’s expected to be a year of legacy-building, made all the more difficult by the run-up to this year’s elections. For those that may have missed it, here’s a quick look at the State of the Union in chart form.
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