The discussions concerning health care innovations and reconstructions have been held by the country’s officials for a long time. On June 26, 2018, the testimony by the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Alex M. Azar II, was presented to the Senate (C-Span, 2018). The purpose of the meeting was to address the “Trump administration’s plans to lower prescription drug costs” (United States Senate Committee of Finance, 2018, para. 2). Among the key participants of the Azar meeting were Senator Orin Hatch, Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Debbie Stabenow, and Senator John Thune (C-Span, 2018).
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The room set-up was organized in a way traditional for Senate hearings. The speaker took the central position in front of the long table with seventeen chairs for senators participating in the discussion. A meeting secretary conducting the documentation record was seated in the center of the room. The rest of the room in the back of the main speaker was devoted to the press. The table areas of each meeting participant were equipped with a microphone. No audio, video, or any other types of supporting materials were used during the meeting. The specialists responsible for technical support were present in the meeting room as well.
There were several main discussion points on the agenda that included the overall purpose of the initiated policy, its beneficiary outcomes and challenges, and the role of rebates in drug pricing measures. The meeting was led by Hatch, who introduced the participants, and the main speaker Secretary Azar who presented his report. The speech was followed by Senators’ questions which Azar thoroughly addressed in his consecutive responses, and ended with the concluding statements. Thus, the hearing of prescription drug supply and cost policy enactment presented acute health care affordability issues to public discussion.
Background Information and a Description About the Committee
The discussion of the affordability of medicine for US citizens was enforced by President Trump’s speech in the Rose Garden (United States Senate Committee of Finance, 2018). There, Trump introduced his administration’s efforts aimed at the rethinking of the least drug prices processing as the initial measure for pharmaceutical products accessibility for people. The meeting was hosted by the Senate Finance Committee that conducts hearings concerning financial issues of state importance. The Senate Committee includes the participants who represent both Republicans and Democrats, enabling adequate and full objective discussion of the problem.
One Specific Topic that Was Discussed at the Meeting and an Explanation of the Committee Process
The main topic of concern raised during the meeting was the enactment of the Trump administration’s policy aimed at the reduction of drug prices on the level of pricing negotiations between the manufacturers and pharmacies. Due to the rebates system that suppliers utilize for negotiations with the pharmacies, the manufacturers are encouraged to raise prices artificially, not to lose money upon having provided a discount. It leads to inappropriate price manipulation that places patients at risk (C-Span, 2018).
The task of the HHS is to establish fixed prices for medications throu8ghout the chain of suppliers and pharmacies to guarantee the elimination of pricing speculations. The Committee hearing Secretary Azar interrogated on the possible ways of such policy implementation, the benefits and potential threats for both private and public enterprises, as well as for the US citizens (C-Span, 2018). The process of negotiation at the meeting provided thorough insights into the mechanics of the new policy, its aims, and methods.
An Analysis of the Key Stakeholder Positions Related to the Topic Discussed
The senators participating in the discussion represented opposing views on the President Administration’s efforts to decrease drug prices. Senator Thune questioned the enactment process and how it might affect businesses involved in the area. Thus, the long-lasting system of cooperation between drug manufacturers and pharmacies might be harmful to the industry finances. However, according to the HHS mission, the priority of the organization’s performance is the health and well-being of the US citizens (“About HHS,” n.d.).
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This idea as the core of the new policy was supported by the majority of meeting participants due to its attempt to provide positive change to American society. Lowering drug costs through the ultimate reconstruction of the pricing procedure is the most important task in the HHS way to reforming the health care system.
Key Interactions that Occurred at the Meeting
The most important interactions that took place at the hearing involved the speaker and some senators who requested more explanation on the policy procedure. In particular, Senator Stabenow demanded responses to “Medicare Part D changes,” which are necessary for proper policy implementation (C-Span, 2018). Also, Senator Menendez articulated his concern about the existing speculation on the pharmaceutical market and the urgent need for the appropriate authorities to cooperate for rapid action (C-Span, 2018). One of the most acute questions initiated by several senators concerned the migrant children who were left in the USA without their parents. Despite some intensive discussions between Azar and his opponents, the meeting was closed by Hatch with words of support for the initiative.
Outcomes of the Meeting Including the Specific Topic Focus
In conclusion, the United States Committee of Finance heard HHS Secretary Azar’s testimony concerning the procedures of lowering prescription drug prices. The initiative addresses the need to reform the procedure of pricing at the level of supplier-pharmacy discount negotiations. Since the existing rebates system encourages an artificial increase of prices, the Administration of President Trump and the HHS initiate fixed costs that would enable transparency of Medicare for the US citizens.
The main participants of the meeting were actively involved in the discussion and retrieved relevant information necessary for understanding the aims, methods, and anticipated outcomes of the discussed policy. The meeting’s results indicate the need of the Trump administration to clarify the changes made to Medicare Part D, as well as the procedures applied to migrant children. Overall, the head of the Committee expressed his respect toward the initiative due to its acute relevance in the difficult times of US history.
About HHS. (n.d.). Web.
C-Span. (2018). Prescription drug supply and cost . Web.
United States Senate Committee of Finance. (2018). Hatch opening statement at drug affordability and innovation hearing Azar testifies. Web.