A "Back in Business" Recap

Top leaders of American industry gathered last week at National Journal’s Back in Business Forum to discuss strategies for tackling one of the country's most pressing problems—pulling the U.S. up from the current economic downturn. While the day’s agenda featured diverse perspectives from a number of innovative industries, I was (of course) listening with an ear towards healthcare. 

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The focus of the day was the economy, innovation and job growth, but the discussion from panelists on “Health Care Solutions Washington Can Learn From” gave me some refreshing food for thought on economy-boosting programs that also benefit patients:

“We should keep highlighting successful health news.”                                                                ~Chris Jennings, President, Jennings Policy Strategies

President of Jennings Policy Strategies, Chris Jennings, emphasized the importance of media reporting on successful innovations, model policies, and improved health care quality. While the media tend to more negatively focus on challenges facing the system, past achievements can provide a blueprint for future success. As an example, Jennings cited the success of the Prescription User Fee Act (PDUFA) in providing FDA necessary resources, fostering more timely patient access to new medicines, while still encouraging pharmaceutical innovation.

“The biggest group of our challenges comes from Medicare.” 

                                                                 ~Senator John Barrasso

Ninety years ago, the average life expectancy for a typical new born baby girl was 56 years. Social, technological, and medical advances in the decades since have dramatically increased the female life expectancy to 81 years. As our population continues to age, health costs become an even bigger concern. With the number of people enrolled in Medicare projected to grow from around 40 million to roughly 80 million, it’s time to take a look at what works. The Medicare Part D prescription drug program has come in 45% under its originally projected cost and achieved an astounding 90% satisfaction rate among senior beneficiaries. Part D’s competitive structure uses free market forces to bring older Americans quality care that suits their health care needs. 

Just as David Pryor, VP of Ascension Health Alliance pointed out, we have an “enormous opportunity to improve healthcare outcomes and increase financial stability.” Promoting successful policies like PDUFA and Medicare Part D secure patient access to medicines, improve health outcomes and provide solutions to some of our most pressing health challenges.