Cardiovascular Disease Working Group

Formed in 2016, the Cardiovascular Disease Working Group is a home for physicians interested in public policy issues relating to access to therapies for cardiovascular conditions. Working group members collaborate in the development of educational resources and participate in advocacy initiatives that promote informed policymaking.

Heart health complications challenge millions of Americans each year. An estimated 102 million adults have high cholesterol, with more than 35 million of these at high risk for heart disease. About 5.1 million suffer from heart failure, and roughly one in three Americans has high blood pressure.

In recent years, innovative medical therapies have emerged to offer new treatment options for patients – medications that reach more patients, better control symptoms or reduce side effects that complicate treatment. Breakthrough treatments can produce more powerful results for patients who may not respond to traditional therapies.

But health plan coverage has been slow to accommodate breakthrough treatments. Insurers instead have clung to older, less expensive therapies, using restrictive policy design to limit patient access. Steep co-payment requirements, for example, can push the cost burden onto many patients.

Budget-focused policies that assume a one-size-fits-all approach to heart health can put patients at risk. They can also allow cost-cutting tactics to trump physician insight. For patients to benefit from breakthrough therapies for cardiovascular conditions, health plan coverage must evolve so that the physician-patient relationship continues to mold decisions about patient care.

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