RICH DALY, HFMA SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
FORMER FEDERAL HEALTHCARE POLICY LEADERS DISCUSSED ADVICE ON PRIORITIES FOR THE NEW SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.
Feb. 21—The ongoing partisan divide on how federal policymakers should respond to rising drug prices was on display this week in the form of a sharp disagreement between former leaders of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Despite recently co-founding the United States of Care, which is a not-for-profit that aims to find bipartisan health policy solutions, Andy Slavitt and Mark McClellan, both former CMS administrators, were unable to find common ground when discussing the best federal response to spiking drug prices. They addressed healthcare costs at a Feb. 21 meeting of the West Health Institute.
“When I was overseeing the Medicare program, I couldn’t understand why the secretary of the VA [Department of Veterans Affairs] could buy drugs for veterans at prices way below what I could for the American taxpayers,” Slavitt said in reference to the VA’s authority to negotiate drug prices. “I understand it politically. That’s how our system works, but it doesn’t really make sense that the veterans can get a lower price than we can for seniors.”
McClellan noted that fundamental differences remain among Americans over the proper role for the federal government in controlling access to drugs.