Ensuring Care for Vulnerable Populations

Dan Leonard, NPC President and CEO

In his latest column for Chain Drug Review, Dan Leonard, President and CEO of the National Pharmaceutical Council, discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the persistence of barriers that hamper access to health care for many, especially those in vulnerable populations. Due to the fragility of our social safety net and the negative economic effects of the pandemic, more Americans are likely to enroll in Medicaid. Although Mr. Leonard believes Medicaid can help these vulnerable communities access the care they need, he acknowledges that increased enrollment will place a budgetary strain on states.

Mr. Leonard lays out the disparities underscored by the pandemic, including race, pre-existing conditions, access to health care, and socioeconomic class. He also comments that pandemic response—office closures, self-quarantine, fear of going to the hospital or clinic, and economic concerns—has resulted in diminished or delayed medical care for many Americans.

These realities point to an increase in Medicaid enrollment, which accounts for a substantial portion of state budgets. Mr. Leonard observes that states will be forced to make spending trade-offs as a result of this looming budget crisis. He urges state decision-makers to use their resources wisely, ensuring access to care for those who need it most. At the end of the day, he concludes, “The need for careful budgeting and prioritization of resources can help bring evidence-based, high-value care to the fore.”

Read the full column on Chain Drug Review’s website.