January 17, 2018
A recent editorial from Modern Healthcare points to spiraling prescription drug prices as the root cause of increases in healthcare costs. In reviewing the new Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar's Senate confirmation hearing, Modern Healthcare's editor emeritus, Merrill Goozner, picks a bone with Azar's characterization of drug costs and health costs as separate issues, positing instead that in order to make healthcare more affordable, priority number one should be stemming unjustified price hikes:

"Healthcare has a cost problem. No one disputes that. But what many would dispute is the assertion that rapidly rising drug prices are the root cause of the problem. They are, as the latest data from the CMS and major hospital systems clearly show."

"The pharmaceutical industry's campaign to deflect attention from high drug prices was on display during the confirmation hearing for Alex Azar, the former Eli Lilly executive slated to become the next HHS secretary."

"Azar said his second-highest priority is to make healthcare more affordable. That will be a neat trick without tackling the No. 1 cause of rising costs, which is out-of-control drug spending."

"...after closely examing the latest CMS expenditures report, the indisputable fact is that rising drug and medical-device prices remain the most serious contemporary cost problem the healthcare industry has. Indeed, it threatens to overwhelm all other efforts at cost control, many of which are showing signs of progress."

"Former drug executive Azar says his two biggest priorities will be dealing with high drug prices and rising healthcare costs. Thing Two, meet Thing One."

Read the full article here
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