A podcast that pulls back the curtain to help you make sense of complex healthcare economics and policy issues.

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A podcast that pulls back the curtain to help you make sense of complex healthcare economics and policy issues.

On the Healthcare Matters podcast

“Healthcare Matters” is hosted by Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at GHLF and Conner Mertens, Patient Advocate and Community Outreach Manager at GHLF. Our goal is to simplify the complexities in healthcare economics and policy for you.

Healthcare Matters Episodes

“Healthcare Matters” is part of the Global Healthy Living Foundation Podcast Network and hosted by Dr. Robert Popovian and Conner Mertens.

Season 2, Episode 9

Overcoming the Hurdles of Biosimilars Adoption

Biosimilars are equally as safe and effective as brand biologic medicines. Plus, they are less expensive, which means they save patients money. So why are there still hurdles for the U.S. health care system to adopt them?

“Patients are saving money and the system is saving money. So what we need to do is introduce policies in the marketplace that really enhance the adoption of biosimilars,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Season 2, Episode 8

Why Are Drugs So Expensive For Seniors

Mary’s story is familiar to far too many senior citizens who are living on fixed incomes. They have no choice but to pay thousands of dollars a year on medications that are not covered by insurance. What could be done to help them?

In the Medicare program, “we tend to cover everything cheap, which is basically the generic medicines. When patients require more expensive drugs. the coverage becomes less and less,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at Global Healthy Living Foundation. “That means they’re exposed to those prices more and more, which makes absolutely no sense because it goes against the premise of what insurance should be.”

Season 2, Episode 7

“It’s Criminal”- Non-Medical Switching and Mental Health

Getting diagnosed and properly treated for a mental health condition is grueling enough without having to deal with non-medical switching, or having to change your medication for no other reason than money, says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation. In the second of two episodes on this topic, we examine what can be done to change this practice of non-medical switching.

Season 2, Episode 6

Non-Medical Switching: What It Is and How It Harms Patients

It’s frustrating for chronically ill patients, like those living with mental health disorders, when their proven drug therapies are switched or substituted—sometimes justifiably, other times for companies to make more money. In the first of two episodes on this topic, we examine what’s behind non-medical switching and how it could harm patients.

“Non-medical switching is basically substituting one molecule for another for the sole purpose of an economic outcome that is favorable to the insurer or the pharmacy benefit management company,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Season 2, Episode 5

UnQALYfied: Putting a Price on Patients Life

In the United States, data analytics are used to determine the price of drugs. But many patients don’t fit into neatly organized statistics, especially ones who have multiple diseases and, as a result, are denied therapies. In this week’s episode, we explore the method used in the U.S. to set drug prices, called the Cost per QALY or cost-effectiveness.

“Data in health care has never been meant to be static. We need to provide even greater scrutiny concerning these models and how they’re applied and make coverage decisions for life-saving biopharmaceuticals,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Season 2, Episode 4

Patients Stuck with Health Care Deductible Bills

Majority of insurance and pharmacy benefit management companies offer copay accumulator adjustment programs. However, for patients, what these programs do and what they mean is shrouded in mystery. In this week’s episode, we break down copay accumulator adjustment programs, and how they impact you as a patient.

“The patient is the one that is going to get stuck in the middle. And at some point, they are going to suffer- both financially and also in a way to be able to get care that is necessary to them,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Season 2, Episode 3

Status of COVID Treatments

New treatments are being developed by the biopharmaceutical industry in collaboration with the government and FDA to help treat COVID-19 and new variants. In this week’s episode, we break down these new treatments and therapies, and discuss what they mean for patients.

“It is important for us to have multiple therapies-even within those classes-to make sure that patients have choice and that physicians, pharmacists, and nurses have choices that can then appropriately treat the patient,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Season 2, Episode 2

A Deep Dive Into COVID-19 Vaccines

Vaccinations have proven to reduce the severity of symptoms, hospitalizations, and death for people who contract COVID. But for some, the debate surrounding the vaccines has kept them from getting a booster, let alone the initial round of vaccinations. In this episode, we explore how the vaccines were developed so quickly, the differences between them, and how they work.

“They’re helping us every day. They’re reducing hospitalizations and mortality and don’t kid yourself: the chances of you being hospitalized or dying from COVID is much greater if you are not vaccinated. The data is very clear on that, and it has held up throughout this last twelve months,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Season 2, Episode 1

In Drug Development, It’s About Time

As we start a new year and a new season, we take a look at how drugs are developed and why time is the most important part of the formula when it comes to biopharmaceutical research. In other words, the more we delay, the longer it takes for patients to get the treatment they need.

“The researchers concluded that statin therapy, which is used everyday by patients toward lowering their cholesterol, reduced deaths by 40,000. There were 60,000 fewer hospitalizations and heart attacks and 22,000 fewer hospitalizations for strokes,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 10

Three Big Misses of Build Back Better for Patients

At the start of 2022, there’s renewed hope that President Biden’s social spending and climate policy bill can survive in some form. In this episode, we explore three of the bill’s shortcomings and how it impacts patients.

“Some estimates say that we spend more on administrative burden in the US marketplace than actually pay for pharmaceuticals in the US market, which is astounding to me,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 09

Build Back Better: Will Congressional Action Help Patients?

One Senator has held up the passage of President Biden’s social spending and climate policy bill, known as Build Back Better. We examine how the current bill would help patients and where it stops short.

“It is a major issue for consumers. Every day, patients through no fault of their own are not able to afford their medicines,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation. “And it does cause complications down the road if they’re not taking their medicines because of outrageous out-of-pocket costs that they’ll have to pay.”

Episode 08

The Risks of Switching Patients Who Are Stable on Their Medications

Has your insurer ever switched your drug without talking to you or your doctor? This is called a formulary exclusion. But what risk does this pose to patients suffering from chronic illness?

“There is some action that can be taken to prohibit this type of practice. Or at least—for the minimum—to mandate that pharmacy benefit management companies and insurers that are doing, and implementing such policies, are held accountable,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 07

The “1-2 Punch” To Help Patients

Patients are not all the same, they’re individuals with different needs, different genetics, and different medical conditions. In this episode, we explore the benefits of the medical community using both personalized and precision medicine on patients.

“One cannot exist without the other. But the most important thing is that it allows us to be able to really concentrate on the patient and bring the specific drug to the patient, which is the right drug to the right patient at the right time, says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 06

The Gimmick of Paying Patients

If you were offered a financial incentive to change medications, would you do it? Many healthcare providers offer cash incentives to get their patients to switch to a new medication, but this quick cash practice can have serious, long-term health implications for patients.

“Although this is not illegal, it is somewhat unethical because, again, it’s blurring the lines between medical practice and insurance coverage,“ says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 05

Mind Boggling: Patients In The Dark

Patients are the last to know how much their insurance premiums, pharmaceuticals and hospital costs will be. What will it take for the healthcare system to become more transparent so patients have more information to make informed decisions and save money?

“It is just disturbing that the federal government, the largest payer of healthcare in the United States, does not have audit rights to go in, open up the ledgers of the pharmacy benefit managers and see where the money is going,“ says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 04

Out-of-Pocket Barrier To Vaccines

In this episode, we are looking at how benefit design in Medicare creates vaccine design inequity. Even small out-of-pocket costs can deter some communities from getting the right vaccines and treatment they need.

“Any type of a policy that reduces the access to vaccination, most definitely will impact patients and will increase this wasteful spending,“ says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation. “Vaccines should be regarded as—and are regarded as—the most cost-beneficial intervention in healthcare.”

Episode 03

The Flaws in Fail First Therapy

In this episode, we look at the major flaws in fail first, or step therapy, which mandates that a patient must fail on one or more less expensive drugs before “stepping up” to another drug.

“Anything that we do from a policy perspective, and this is the mantra of Global; Healthy Living Foundation, policies, legislations, anything that passes, the patient has to directly benefit from them,“ says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 02

Bipartisans Healthcare: Policy or Pipedream?

In this episode, we look at how the federal government can work in a bipartisan manner to improve our healthcare system.

“Bipartisan initiatives are extremely important in healthcare because, at the end of the day, no physician, patient chart, hospital admissions record ever asks you about your political platform before you get treatment. And I truly believe that there is a bipartisan opportunity here. Patients are waiting and we need to help them out. They can no longer go on the way things are currently set up,” says Dr. Robert Popovian, Chief Science Policy Officer at the Global Healthy Living Foundation.

Episode 01

Time for Bipartisanship?

With a new administration in the White House, there is renewed optimism for bipartisanship on issues surrounding healthcare. Hear how the Biden administration can work across the political isle to make effective change, bringing costs down for patients, and ensuring they receive the best possible care.

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