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HHS Secretary Azar Outlines Trump Administration Health Agenda

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HHS Secretary Azar Outlines Trump Administration Health Agenda

Monday, July 29, 2019
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ANCOR is sharing this item by Politico Pulse because it is important for our members to keep track of how key policy-makers view health issues. For readers less familiar with our issues, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) oversees Medicaid, which funds the majority of disability supports in the U.S.

As written by Politico Pulse:

HOW AZAR SEES TRUMP’S HEALTH STRATEGY NOW — The HHS secretary in an interview with PULSE offered his overarching theory for the Trump administration’s health care agenda heading into the 2020 election.

Azar listed three priorities that make up what he called a "unified theory of health care for the Trump administration” — (1) changing health care financing, (2) improving value and (3) boosting public health — saying that they collectively explain the administration's past and future actions. [Emphasis added by ANCOR.]

For instance, Azar defended tightening Medicaid eligibility and fighting "Medicare for All" — and opposing other coverage expansions — as the Trump administration's commitment to improving health care finances. He pointed to drug pricing initiatives and a new executive order on price transparency as part of the second bucket on value.

Meanwhile, Azar said that new HHS-led pilots to improve kidney care and reduce HIV transmission fall under the administration's third bucket of better outcomes.

He’ll lay out his thinking during a speech at the Better Medicare Alliance's summit today.

— How PULSE reads Azar's remarks: The HHS secretary is seeking to position the administration's disparate health initiatives as a singular agenda, while shifting focus away from Obamacare repeal — a politically damaging issue for Republicans heading into 2020. Of course, the spotlight would swing back onto Obamacare repeal instantly if the courts uphold all or part of a federal judge’s ruling invalidating the law.

Azar also sidestepped PULSE's questions about how an ACA court defeat would affect goals that rely on the Obamacare-created CMS innovation center, like the administration's popular kidney care initiative. "We would work with Congress on any replacement plan to keep what works and replace what's broken," Azar said — which has become his go-to line when asked about Obamacare being struck down.

— The other view: Advocates have criticized many parts of Trump's agenda, saying that efforts to limit Medicaid access could harm millions of low-income adults and children.

The Trump administration's official position that the ACA should be struck down — with no replacement in sight — also has alarmed public health experts, who warn of the impact on tens of millions of Americans who depend on the law and its protections for coverage.”

[ANCOR note: emphases in original unless otherwise noted.]