Dr. Scott Gottlieb answers a question from Mike Allen. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

This Wednesday morning, Axios Co-founder Mike Allen hosted a series of one-on-one conversations on the future of comprehensive health care across urban and rural America. Topics covered included how to get affordable and accessible care, as well as news of the day items like the rise in youth addiction to nicotine.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Former Commissioner, U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Former Commissioner of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, discussed the vaping crisis, including bans on certain flavored cartridges, as well as the differences in the open tank and cartridge systems of vaping.

  • On vaping as an imperfect alternative to smoking: "I still think they could be a useful alternative, but whatever benefits they have have been greatly overshadowed by the youth crisis in nicotine addiction...if you ban flavors, kids will migrate on to new flavors."
  • On being unequivocal about vaping products that are targeted to young people: “I think Juul should be pulled off the market entirely.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy, Louisiana
Sen. Bill Cassidy discussing drug pricing on Wednesday morning. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) discussed the interconnectedness of comprehensive health, focusing on investment in a broader system of wellness and addressing burnout amongst medical professionals.

  • On how health care is part of a bigger ecosystem: "We need to think about health care far more holistically...When you invest in housing you’re investing in mental health."
  • On why surprise medical billing exists: "Some stakeholders like this current arrangement…because they make a lot more money...There will always be bad apples who want to exploit this system."
Sylvia Burwell, President, American University
Sylvia Burwell in conversation with Mike Allen. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

President of American University and Former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, discussed her perspective on trends in mental health for young people, as well as the broader health care system. She highlighted economic issues as well as social media in creating and exacerbating stress.

  • On the most pressing question about health care in 2020: “What do Americans want? They want health care that is affordable that they can access...The most important thing is where you are on the question of if we should take away the Affordable Care Act.”
  • On examining trends in mental health for young people: "There is a steep increase in the number of students who report stress, anxiety, and depression...this is an important issue for universities and a broader issue for our nation."
Sam Baker, Health Care Editor, Axios
Health Care Editor Sam Baker on the Axios stage. Photo: Lawrence Jackson for Axios

Axios' Health Care Editor Sam Baker discussed the themes that arose during the year's Health Care Vitals tour, including expanding the conversation beyond access and digging into challenges around cost and current levels of comprehensiveness.

  • On the health care conversation in Washington: "It’s reactive to the real conversation that people are having, which is about cost...that’s a real frustration that Americans face and it has trickled up."
  • How high cost doesn't equate to high quality in the American health care system: "We pay exorbitantly more than any other country and don’t have better outcomes for all that money we’re spending."

Thank you Delta Dental Institute for sponsoring this event.

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Data: Mat Talk Online; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

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Yes, but: Some passionate alumni groups have opted to fight, banding together in hopes of saving the programs they helped build and continue to love.