As drug prices rise, Kaiser Permanente is part of a growing movement that asks how to create a fairer system to assess and pay for drugs according to their value.
Over the past decade, U.S. drug prices have risen to unsustainable levels, threatening to cripple our health care system. Potential solutions have largely focused on how to finance and cover these high prices. But there’s another conversation emerging — one that challenges the high prices altogether and instead asks: How do we create a fairer system that assesses and pays for drugs according to their value?
Tony Barrueta, senior vice president of government relations for Kaiser Permanente, has worked on the issue of drug pricing for more than 25 years and shares his perspective on what’s driving this new conversation and where it’s headed.
Q: You recently had a front-row seat to the evolving conversation on drug pricing, at the Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy Forum and the Financial Times’ Pharma Pricing and Value Summit. What did you take away from those experiences?
When a sense of unfairness persists, change is on the horizon. I believe that’s happening now in the context of drug pricing.
There’s a swell of enthusiasm and urgency to identify more equitable ways to price and pay for drugs in this country. Kaiser Permanente’s unique experience as an integrated care delivery system — comprised of a health plan, physician group, and hospital system — is recognized by many stakeholders in this conversation as valuable, and it’s gratifying that our experience is informing this discussion.
Anthony A. Barrueta, Senior Vice President, Government Relations
"We must keep our patients at the center of this effort; after all, if patients can’t afford their medications, it’s hard to make a case that they’re truly providing value."