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HHS appoints first-ever chief competition officer

News
Article

Action is latest in Biden administration’s efforts to rein in health care costs

Headshot of Stacy Sanders Credit: LinkedIn

Stacy Sanders

Credit: LinkedIn

The Biden administration has taken another step in its campaign to rein in health care and prescription drug costs with the appointment of a chief competition officer in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

In a January 8 press release, the department said the newly-created position will be filled by Stacy Sanders, currently a counselor to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. Sanders will work with the Federal Trade Commission and U.S. Department of Justice to address concentration in health care markets through data-sharing, reciprocal training programs, and further development of additional health care competition policy initiatives.

In addition, Sanders will continue to spearhead efforts to lower costs for prescription drugs and health care services and implement the health care-related aspects of the 2021 Executive Order on Promoting Competition in the American Economy.

As counselor to the HHS secretary, Sanders oversaw HHS’s implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, long-term care initiatives, policies to promote health care competition, and other Medicare work.

“We are thrilled to have Stacy Sanders take on this new role and continue her tireless work to lower health care and prescription drug costs,” Becerra said in the press release. “As the counselor leading HHS’s work to implement the president’s drug price negotiation law, Stacy has successfully taken on some of the most difficult challenges facing HHS. Her stewardship has made a meaningful difference in helping Americans save money on their prescription drug costs.”

Sanders’ appointment is the latest in a series of moves the administration has made to address rising health care-related costs. Among these have been:

  • Granting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services its first-ever authority to negotiate prices for some prescription drugs covered under Medicare Part D directly with pharmaceutical companies.
  • Providing additional tax credits to individuals obtaining health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace
  • Updating antitrust guidelines to make it easier for the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to block mergers among health care institutions that would result in reduced competition and higher prices

“We know that increased competition in the marketplace is a good deal for the American people,” Sanders said. “I look forward to supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to increase competition in health care and lower costs, helping build on steps the Administration has already taken as well as identify opportunities to further spur innovation.”

Before joining HHS Sanders had been staff director for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging and federal policy director of the Medicare Rights Center.

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