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On December 7, 2020, the Pacific Business Group on Health (PBGH) issued this statement regarding the announcement that President-elect Biden will nominate California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
“There’s a limit to what transparency can do,” said Shawn Gremminger, health policy director at the Pacific Business Group on Health, which represents large self-insured employers. “That’s why we’re increasingly comfortable with policies that get at the underlying prices of drugs.” As an example, he cited the Trump administration’s proposal to tie what Medicare pays for drugs to lower prices in other countries.
The Employers’ Prescription for Affordable Drugs said Medicare should determine fair prices for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines and pointed to Gilead’s remdesivir as an example of an overpriced drug. The FDA approved remdesivir as a COVID-19 treatment in October. The drug costs private health plans more than $3,00 per treatment course, Bloomberg reported.
“There is a significant difference in what employers are prepared to support,” said Elizabeth Mitchell, president of the Pacific Business Group on Health, a consortium of large companies including Boeing, Safeway, Walmart and Wells Fargo.
To address rising prices of private health insurance, employers are discussing several strategies, including narrow networks and a decreased reliance on intermediaries, said Elizabeth Mitchell, president and CEO of the Pacific Business Group on Health.
Sutter Health, California’s Attorney General and several health plans are headed back to the drawing board in their search for a watchdog to oversee the health system’s compliance with the terms of its antitrust settlement.
Healthcare policy figured prominently in the vice presidential debate Wednesday evening between Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic Senator Kamala Harris.
“Healthcare costs continue to rise and have a disproportionate impact on the broader scope of American life and the economy, Mitchell said, and it is the responsibility of healthcare leaders, rather than purchasers to change the industry’s trajectory.
Amid disruption precipitated by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a survey by the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions shows employers are maintaining or accelerating their health benefit strategies for 2021 and 2022.
Lauren Vela, senior director of member value at the coalition, said it all comes down to who gains in the end. “There are so many folks making so much money on the existing system that the folks who really know how the system works don’t have an interest in changing it,” Vela said.