Updated May 4, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on health care reform

On Wednesday, May 4th, Axios health care editor Tina Reed and health care reporter Caitlin Owens led conversations examining proposals aimed at improving health care access and affordability in 2022. Guests included Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and MIT Ford economics professor Jonathan Gruber.

Sen. Tom Carper discussed the importance of congressional action on COVID preparedness funding and his thoughts on solutions for reducing drug prices.

  • On the COVID preparedness funding package: “We know that we’re going to have other variations of this virus. It’ll come back and honestly, just like it has in the last two years. It’ll happen again and we need to be ready – right on the money, ready to go and then go after it and help fund the research that needs to be done so we can come up with the vaccinations and the booster shots and the other kind of therapeutics to kill it.”
  • On drug pricing: “I think we ought to protect individuals, seniors who are on Medicare from having to pay more than $2000 a year out of their own pockets. Those are some of the things that I believe there should be certainly strong Democratic support for, and I would hope bipartisan support.”

Jonathan Gruber reflected on where things stand on the health care components of the Build Back Better package and the politics standing in the way of comprehensive reform.

  • On the political barriers to expanding Medicare benefits: “I’m not opposed to it, but I think it’s a harder political lift. And honestly, I would hate to see millions of people lose health insurance coverage in a fight over that expansion. I think getting people health insurance coverage is more important, and I think that’s doable if more politically feasible…”
  • On prescription drug reform: “I believe in free markets where the conditions for free markets allow them to thrive. That’s not true in prescription drugs. The market has failed and we need some kind of regulation on prescription drug pricing. But, politically, we seem to be stuck in this bind.”

In the View from the Top segment, PhRMA chief operating officer Lori Reilly highlighted factors creating health care affordability issues for Americans today.

  • “We recently did a patient experience survey and we found out that about a third of Americans find that their current health care costs are just simply unworkable for their budget, which isn’t really surprising when you look at other data that shows that less than half of Americans have $1000 that’s accessible if they have a health care emergency as it relates to medicines…”

Thank you PhRMA for sponsoring this event.

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