States in this country are supposed to be 50 laboratories of democracy.

This way, we can see how various different potential solutions play out and best practices can be copied while worst practices can be ignored.

And local governments know what works for their constituents better than a massive federal bureaucracy does..

This is a simple and accurate concept that unfortunately many people do not properly grasp.

Thankfully, the Trump administration DOES grasp it.

Thursday, HHS Secretary Azar spoke at the 45th American Legislative Exchange Council Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana.

He talked in detail about the Trump Administration’s desire to let the states play their intended roles in healthcare:

“From administering Medicaid programs to providing mental health services, retiree healthcare, and public health programs, states have a major role to play in running America’s healthcare system. But we don’t just want you administering our system as it stands today. This administration believes states should play a vital role in driving American healthcare forward.”

In addition, Secretary Azar spoke about other critical improvements the administration is looking to make in health care including:

  • Maximizing the promise of health IT, including through promoting interoperability and patient control of data.
  • Boosting transparency around price and quality.
  • Pioneering bold new models in Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Removing government burdens and barriers, especially those impeding care coordination.

These are all excellent ideas that will help modernize our healthcare system while improving quality and lowering costs.

This goes nicely with the strong first step the administration has taken in the right direction with its Competitive Acquisition Program for tougher negotiation as it pertains to Medicare Part B.

Medicare is a huge part of the market as far as buying prescription drugs is concerned, so anything that can be done to drive those prices down would be a welcome change.

From the official HHS press release on the matter:

Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) delivered on President Trump’s promise to negotiate better deals for Medicare patients and create competition between drugs used to treat the same conditions, with more than half of the savings required to be passed on directly to patients. This action gives Medicare Advantage plans the option of applying step therapy for physician-administered and other Part B drugs and is an important step within the Administration’s larger agenda to provide patients with more choices when picking a Medicare Advantage plan that best meets their needs.

For the first time, CMS will provide Medicare Advantage plans — private health insurance plans that provide Medicare benefits to 20 million Medicare beneficiaries (a third of all beneficiaries in Medicare) — the option of negotiating for Part B drugs in a way that lowers costs and improves the quality of care. Medicare Advantage plans that also offer a Part D benefit will be able to cross-manage across Part B and Part D, so that patients receive the best medicine whether it is physician-administered or self-administered. CMS is also putting American Patients First by making sure that Medicare Advantage plans negotiate in a way that ensures patient choice and provides patient protections with guardrails, including that step therapy can only be applied to new prescriptions for patients who are not actively receiving a given medication.

HHS is off to a strong start, but it should only be the beginning.

There is a long road ahead as far as fixing the healthcare systemin the United States, but based on this action and previous ones, I am confident we have the right administration in place to carry out the changes that are so badly needed.