HHS wants insight from private companies like venture capital firms and startup incubators on strategies to accelerate investment, innovation and research in healthcare.

The agency on Wednesday announced the formation of the Deputy Secretary’s Innovation and Investment Summit, a yearlong collaboration with HHS officials and various private healthcare companies and investors. The creation of the summit is in response to a request for information HHS posted in June on ways it can work with “those focused on innovating and investing in the healthcare industry.”

With Americans increasingly concerned about drug prices and the Trump administration’s drug-pricing blueprintsupporting free-market pathways, the overriding question is: How do we inject more competition into the system by which drugs are purchased and dispensed?  Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has already moved to accelerate generic drug approvals, and now he wants to repeat that success by galvanizing the market for biosimilars, where products could be priced between 20-30 percent lower than their innovator brand cousins.

Each life saved from addiction is an important victory. And while the epidemic still rages, we are now seeing signs of national progress.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its annual survey of Americans’ drug use and mental health. For the second year in a row, the number of Americans misusing legal or illegal opioids dropped. Even more encouraging, the number of Americans initiating heroin use dropped by around half from 2016 to 2017.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Wednesday that it has awarded more than $1 billion in grants to states, communities and organizations fighting the opioid crisis.

The vast majority of that funding — $930 million — is intended to support states’ efforts to provide treatment and prevention services to combat opioid abuse.

The Trump administration is close to issuing a new rule that could effectively ban rebate payments from drug manufacturers to pharmaceutical benefit managers, or PBMs. The plan is misguided. A full ban would backfire and increase costs to consumers.

The regulation, now under review at the Office of Management and Budget, could remove the safe-harbor protection for rebate payments under an anti-kickback law. But rebates are price discounts, not kickbacks. They reduce prices based on sales volume: Drug companies charge less when more of their drugs are sold to patients.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced on Wednesday a new opportunity for those who failed to comply with the individual mandate in 2018 to avoid the corresponding tax penalty. The new policy allows hardship exemptions to be claimed without “the documentary evidence or written explanation generally required.”

HHS Secretary Alex Azar on Thursday touted the CMS’ recent push for accountable care organizations to assume more risk.

In an address to an advisory group on physician-focused payment models, Azar said the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation would be launching “bold” new models to reform value-based models that include making physicians and hospitals into “accountable navigators of the health system.”

HHS wants to encourage providers to enter value-based care agreements with each other, and it’s researching whether it can offer new legal protections for those arrangements.

Yesterday marked 100 days since President Trump announced his drug pricing blueprint, the basic goal of which is to “lower prices” somehow. How successful has it been?

In thinking about this question, it is useful to remind oneself that drug production and distribution is largely market-based, and the lesson of the market framework is that prices fall only if there is an increase in supply, a decrease in demand, or a reduction in taxes and other overhead-like costs.

Short-term health insurance plans provide affordable, individualized options for people who are between jobs, taking time off to care for a sick family member, or can’t afford the few options available to them on the exchanges.