July 21, 2021

Healthcare Implications of Biden’s Latest Executive Order

Ken Perez
Vice President, Healthcare Policy and Government Affairs, Omnicell

In a recent Executive Order (EO) described as the “centerpiece of a new Democratic Party,” President Joe Biden was critical of big business, advocating for policy and regulatory changes that would promote competition in seven areas: labor markets, transportation, agriculture, internet services, technology, banking and consumer finance, and, of course, healthcare.

There has been wide speculation as to just how aggressive the Biden Administration would be in effecting health policy change over the next four years. In this most recent EO, the President targeted not one, but three of the largest sectors of healthcare—hospitals, health plans, and pharmaceutical companies. The EO contends that a lack of competition increases prices and reduces access to quality care. Following are summaries of the specific proposals in the EO for the three areas.

Prescription Drugs

With 75% of the healthcare verbiage devoted to prescription drugs, the EO directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase support for generic and biosimilar drugs and issue a comprehensive plan to combat high prescription drug prices and price gouging within 45 days. It directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to work with states and tribes to safely import prescription drugs from Canada, and it also encourages the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban “pay for delay” agreements in which brand-name drug manufacturers pay generic manufacturers to stay out of the market.

Health Insurance

The EO directs HHS to standardize options in the National Health Insurance Marketplace (HealthCare.gov) so that people can comparison shop more easily.

Hospitals

The EO encourages the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission to review and revise merger guidelines to ensure patients are not harmed by such mergers, and it directs HHS to support hospital price transparency rules and finish implementing bipartisan federal legislation to address surprise hospital billings.

Analysis

Overall, the EO’s healthcare proposals reflect the most moderate of the major policy proposals of the Biden campaign. Though brand-name drug manufacturers stand to lose the most, hospital-related proposals reinforce existing rules and laws, and proposals to standardize plan options in the Affordable Care Act will certainly make price comparisons easier—though they could arguably discourage innovation and actually reduce customer choice.

In the end, the EO’s healthcare proposals may portend and help foster a legislative environment more conducive to bipartisan initiatives, at least in the area of healthcare.

DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. Assumptions made in the analysis are not reflective of the position of any entity other than the author(s). These views are always subject to change, revision, and rethinking at any time and may not be held in perpetuity.

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