The Future of Health Care Reform

What does health care reform mean to you? This is the question our Chairman, President, and CEO John Lechleiter’s posed on Forbes lastweek. When we think about improving the state of health care in America, Lechleiter points out that to truly realize health care reform we must incorporate the challenge of access to medicines. Health care reform “is not about a single piece of legislation but rather a never-ending effort to improve quality, access, and affordability.”

Over the past few years, health care reform has become synonymous with the Affordable Care Act. While we should not overlook any important policy advances, we cannot allow ourselves to believe that health care reform ended there. Many challenges remain, from addressing unmet health care needs to ensuring that patients have timely access to the treatments they need. Expanding our understanding of reform has, therefore, become critical to truly supporting improved health outcomes for people around the world.

What does the future of health care reform look like?

Constantly Improving Quality – While medical discovery helps us find new cures and treatments, it also helps us find ways to improve upon existing medicines in innovative ways. For example, complex health care challenges such as the fight against cancer seldom rely on “breakthrough” discoveries as was previously the norm. Instead, continuous innovation has become an effective strategy to make incremental steps in the fight against disease, helping to improve health outcomes while leading us closer to a cure.  Our understanding of health care reform must therefore include policies that work to support and build on our innovation ecosystem.  A new paradigm for reform will allow our industry to continue to invest in the research and development that leads to new life-saving discoveries.

Working To Increase Access – In order to confront the global health challenges we face, we need to work to increase access to treatments. The issue of access requires coordination, and partnership, and a health care system that can support these projects. A new view of health care reform must truly focus on identifying ways to improve our ability to deliver treatments to those who need them the most, when they need them.

Ensuring Affordability – The Affordable Care Act has helped to make treatment affordable, but more work remains. As a recent report commissioned by PhRMA points out, coverage under exchange plans may require that many pay twice as much out of pocket for prescriptions than those on employer plans. In order to truly build a sustainable health care system, we must find ways to ensure that we continue our efforts to make coverage affordable to everyone.  Existing policies like Medicare Part D have set the precedent for making medicines more affordable while also lowering costs throughout the health care system. Supporting similar policies remains critical to making health care more affordable- and sustainable - for future generations.

It may sound ambitious, but with the right coordination, partnerships, and a determination we can build the strong, sustainable health care ecosystem that will build a healthier tomorrow.