Azar to hospital execs: Administration 'not interested in incremental steps' for cost reform

HHS Secretary Alex Azar outlined a number of reforms his administration plans to take to lower healthcare costs during a March 5 speech at the Federation of American Hospitals convention in Washington, D.C., according to The Hill.

Mr. Azar said he plans to implement changes that will increase price transparency, make it easier for patients to access their health records and loosen regulations that may stifle innovation. He made it clear he does not intend to bend to healthcare interests during this process.

"Today is an opportunity to let everyone know that we take these shifts seriously, and they're going to happen — one way or another," Mr. Azar said, according to The Hill. "The administration and this president are not interested in incremental steps. We are unafraid of disrupting existing arrangements simply because they're backed by powerful special interests."

The address did not single out providers, but also called for pharmacies and drug manufacturers to increase their price transparency. Mr. Azar also said he plans to reform Medicare and Medicaid in order to lead the charge toward a value-based healthcare system, noting that many commercial payers follow the government's lead for payment models.

"If we don’t change those, nothing will change," Mr. Azar said, according to The Hill. "Only Medicare and Medicaid have the heft, the market concentration, to drive this kind of change, to be a first mover."

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