On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob talk about whether vaccines should be free. Covid-19 vaccines are provided to Americans at no cost in recognition of the enormous public good they provide. Terry and Bob ask whether this logic should apply to all vaccines. 

They discuss the ongoing healthcare staffing shortage and point to a new CVS Health-Harris Poll that finds that Americans have noticed a significant decrease in the availability of their healthcare providers. Bob highlights this healthcare shortage results from three factors: pent-up demand, a backlog of Covid cases, and healthcare staffing burnout. 

They highlight new proposed legislation that would create redundancy in the accelerated approval medication pathway. They argue that the bureaucracy and delays associated with this legislation would reduce the number of rare disease medications that make it to market. Bob calls the proposed confirmatory trials in this legislation a waste of time and money. 

Doug Badger, a former policy advisor to the White House, explains the pros and cons of eliminating cost-sharing for preventative vaccines under Medicare and the implications for patient health and finances. He highlights how some vaccines are covered by different parts of Medicare. 

He discusses how waiving cost-sharing requirements can save the healthcare system money. For instance, a shingles vaccine can prevent more serious conditions and hospitalizations down the line. As a result, these preventative vaccines can result in substantial healthcare savings. Doug explains how the commercial health insurance market is already moving forward with preventative vaccines, and it’s time for Medicare to follow suit. Bob argues that we must revolutionize benefit design and fix the benefit design crisis that hurts patients.

Kate Pecora speaks with Ritu Kaur, who uses social media to unite the Multiple Sclerosis community around the globe. This month is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, and Ritu explains how she has taken her MS diagnosis as a gift and opportunity to help broaden access to MS medicines. Her awareness work has led to followers from around the world. Her podcast 10 Minutes for MS has generated numerous learning experiences. Ritu discusses her recent relapse and how difficult it is to stay positive but how important a positive outlook is for those living with this condition. 

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