On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss how the Biden Administration will affect those with chronic diseases. Biden’s priority is, of course, the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines, but more broadly, his policies must work to help American patients in the rare disease community.
Terry and Bob highlight Biden’s nominees for the Centers for Disease Control and Health and Human Services. Bob notes that he’s impressed with Rochelle Walensky, the CDC nominee, who will help the agency return to its original mission of advancing science. Terry points out that Xavier Becerra, the HHS nominee, doesn’t have experience in running a massive organization, yet that isn’t uncommon among past HHS administrators and shouldn’t disqualify him.
Terry moderates a panel discussion among Matt Gorman, a Republican Party strategist, Matt Rodriguez, a Democratic Party strategist, and Dr. Mark Fendrick, Director at the Center for Value-Based Insurance Design at the University of Michigan, about Biden’s health agenda. They point out that the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine will be Biden’s first major test. There are numerous landmines confronting him in the vaccine rollout, including logistical challenges and encouraging the population to take the needed second dose.
Dr. Fendrick notes that Operation Warp Speed, which produced a vaccine in record time, has been a remarkable accomplishment and encourages the Biden Administration to build on it for all aspects of the healthcare system. Dr. Fendrick is concerned about how a Biden Administration will get the vaccine ball over the goal line by ensuring Americans actually get their vaccinations. The panel highlights the bipartisan strength of the anti-vax movement and the threat it poses to Biden and public health. They foresee numerous court battles over vaccine requirements.
The panel addresses what’s next for healthcare reform and concludes that bipartisan consensus can emerge around lowering out of pocket costs for patients. Avenues to pursue include eliminating surprise billing, prioritizing high-value care, and implementing healthcare price transparency. Dr. Fendrick notes that the way the U.S. healthcare system is currently structured amounts to a tax on the sick. And for many low-income patients, health insurance is utterly useless because deductibles are so high. Their coverage doesn’t equal care.
The panel concludes by discussing the unique window offered to the pharmaceutical industry to capitalize on public opinion with its success in developing the Covid-19 vaccine. All Americans can now see why pharmaceutical innovation is so vital to human flourishing. How the industry can parlay this goodwill may determine the future of prescription drug policy in this country.