Drug costs are burning holes into our pockets — we can fix it
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Each day, Americans are forced to make difficult decisions about their health. The high price of drugs has created an unfortunate reality — too often for the most vulnerable among us, those decisions are not about wellness but rather choosing between basic necessities and taking their daily prescription medications. Many need those drugs to survive.

Legislators from both political parties agree that moving from a volume-based healthcare system to value-based care is critical to delivering truly personalized care. We cannot achieve this in the current environment of rising drug prices.

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We must work together to combat the arbitrary and astronomical price increases and prioritize making affordable medications accessible for all.

 

Sadly, drug prices have prevented nearly one in 10 American adults from taking their medications as prescribed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

As out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications have risen steadily, at a rate faster than inflation, many people are personally experiencing the hardship of rising costs. During a time when the healthcare industry is working to make the system more efficient and effective, it’s becoming increasingly important to address out-of-control prescription drug price increases.

At Ascension, our mission is to provide compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Astronomical price increases are depleting resources that health systems need to invest in delivery reforms to lower the cost curve while improving care.

These prices also undermine our ability to provide affordable prescription medications to the vulnerable populations we serve and impact patient care.

As a healthcare system, the costs we pay for increases in prescription drugs are dollars we’re not able to invest in patient and community care. It’s also devastating that we continue to see prices for drugs that have been around for decades suddenly and steeply increased with no apparent justification, on both branded and generic drugs.

We respect the pharmaceutical work to produce life-saving treatments and breakthrough cures. However, every person deserves the right to know what medicines and treatments are available to them and exactly how much they will cost.

Every day, people nationwide end up paying more for their medications due to these all-too-common price increases, regardless of what insurance plan they have.

Ascension is committed to ensuring that our patients have access to the prescription drugs they need at an affordable cost.

We have joined the nonpartisan Campaign for Sustainable Rx Pricing (CSRxP), a coalition of doctors, businesses, patient groups, hospitals and insurers who are working together to solve this problem.

We call for meaningful market-based solutions that focus on open and honest pricing, promote more market competition, and promote innovation and value.

This could include releasing the details of a drug’s unit price and cost of treatment, annually reporting increases in a drug’s list price and disclosing true research and development costs for drugs, along with speeding up Food and Drug Administration approval of generic drug applications, especially for life-saving drugs, and expanding value-based pricing in public programs.

Our intent is to limit excessive drug price increases through these solutions, to fix the broken prescription drug market and ease the burden this issue is causing on reforming healthcare for patients and providers, and in making medications more affordable for the patients who need them.

Ascension also urges lawmakers to keep the integrity of the 340B Drug Pricing Program to provide important discounts to hospitals that serve those who are struggling — particularly at a time when those discounts are needed most.

The problem of rising prescription drug prices is one of the most pressing issues facing Americans today. As healthcare continues to be a top priority for our government and patients, we applaud the President for his desire to address rising drug prices.

We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to place patients first, protect them from out-of-control spending and improve the quality of life for all Americans. No one should ever have to choose between paying for basic necessities and taking the medicine they need to live.

Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH, is the President of Healthcare Operations and Chief Operating Officer for Ascension Healthcare, the nation’s largest non-profit and largest Catholic health system.


The views of contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.