5 highlights from POLITICO’s Healthcare Summit

5 highlights from POLITICO's Healthcare Summit
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The government is unlikely to repeat the success of Operation Warp Speed

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra minimized expectations that the Biden administration will be able to resume Operation Warp Speed ​​in developing the next generation of Covid-19 vaccines unless the effort gets a lot more money from Congress.

The recent deal to raise the debt ceiling saved about $5 billion in funding for Project NextGen, which aims to develop new Covid vaccines and treatments.

But in an interview with White House reporter Adam Cancryn, Becerra complained that Congress isn’t funding it the way it did Operation Warp Speed.

We have some really innovative approaches and therapies in the works, Becerra said. Here’s the difference they really had trillions of dollars.

It was an exaggeration. Operation Warp Speed ​​didn’t get trillions of dollars, but it did get about $18 billion.

The opioid crisis it could be much worse

Rahul Gupta, director of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said the number of fatal drug overdoses could rise to 165,000 annually by 2025, about 55,000 more than last year.

At the same time, he said if President Joe Biden’s policies to address the crisis were implemented, such as funding treatment for incarcerated people and expanding telehealth treatment, the number of people who die each year could be cut in half. .

AI could transform healthcare, if government and industry can set standards

There needs to be a really robust set of guidelines on fairness and bias control, said Hirsh Jain, public health chief and federal senior vice president at Palantir Technologies, the Denver software developer.

Jain said the federal government and industry should work together to develop guardrails to avoid a patchwork of regulations written by states.

Shannon Thyme Klinger, chief legal officer at Moderna, said AI can accelerate vaccine development and help drugmakers enroll a more diverse population in clinical trials.

Racial disparities remain a major public health challenge

Representative. Jamal Bowman (DN.Y.) lamented continuing racial disparities in health that will require transformative legislation to combat.

We need to talk about deconstructing a system built on racism and colonization, he said.

Illinois Deputy Governor Sol Flores agrees with Bowman’s assessment, saying state and federal officials need to work together to move forward on health equity, especially as Medicaid is wound up.

The post-pandemic restatement of eligibility for Medicaid enrollees threatens the most vulnerable patients, they said, if not managed carefully.

Democrats are at war with the pharmaceutical industry

Representative. Debbie Dingell of Michigan was among Democratic speakers who lashed out at drugmaker Merck for suing to block congressional-ordered Medicare drug pricing talks in recent years Inflation Reduction Act.

If you live in this country and are sick, you should be able to go to the doctor and get the medicines you need and the treatment you need, Dingell said.

He echoed Merck’s claim in his lawsuit that the negotiation amounts to extortion in accusing the New Jersey pharmaceutical giant of shaving Americans.

I call it extortion when they drive up the cost of drugs more than inflation, on seniors who have no choice not just seniors, but patients across the country who have no choice, Dingell said.

Becerra, meanwhile, said negotiating on prices is as American as apple pie.

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