Alex Azar, the president’s nominee to lead the CMS, testified a second time in front of Congress last week. The good news: He appears to agree with our view that intermediaries, such as PBMs, incentivize higher prices, and he supports government working to reduce drug prices. The bad news: He expressed interest in allowing PBMs to work in the Part B drug space, which could increase rheumatologists’ administrative burden and potentially decrease patient access to treatment. Additionally, he stated support for Medicare demonstrations to be mandatory if needed—a significant departure from when Tom Price, MD, headed the CMS and supported doctors’ ability to opt out of demonstration projects. The Senate will likely vote on Azar’s candidacy soon, and the ACR stands ready to work with him and his team to make sure our profession and our patients are represented at the CMS.
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A Final Note
As we all work on our New Year’s resolutions, remember to go out and exercise your First Amendment right to petition your government! (See what I did there?)
Angus Worthing, MD, FACP, FACR, chair, Government Affairs Committee, is a practicing rheumatologist in the Washington, D.C., metro area and clinical assistant professor of medicine at Georgetown University.