alec stone
Alec Stone, MA, MPA, ONS Public Affairs Director

Reaching a broad audience, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar spoke to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network in early September 2019 about the state of healthcare delivery in the United States and outlined the Trump administration’s priorities. Azar praised advocates for being leaders in promoting more investments for education, prevention, and research, and he noted the laudable achievements thus far.

“Even as cancer steals the lives and quality of life of far too many American every year, we also have much to be proud of in how our system tackles this terrible disease,” Azar said. “Survival rates for common cancers are consistently higher than they are in our peer nations. Our system is delivering better health for Americans and more years of life with their loved ones. Delivering more of those results, delivering better health, is the goal.”

Azar expressed support for an affordable, accessible healthcare system that puts patients first, delivering quality care for all Americans. He reiterated the administration’s position that too many people are burdened with high healthcare costs and acknowledged that diseases like cancer often have a financially debilitating effect on the entire family. He also noted the administration’s commitment to providing coverage to patients with pre-existing illnesses.

“The president has been very clear: We will always protect Americans with preexisting conditions—a guarantee we will maintain at the federal level. This guarantee can be especially important to cancer patients and cancer survivors, and the president’s commitment to this promise is fundamental and unquestionable,” Azar stressed. “Moreover, we believe Americans deserve protection from high healthcare costs. No American should ever lose their house because of healthcare expenses—expenses necessary in some cases to helping their loved ones fight off cancer.”

As part of HHS’s commitment to quality and affordable healthcare delivery, Azar listed the following priorities:

Azar also stressed the important of the federal government revamping and expanding sections of the Affordable Care Act so more Americans have access to coverage. He reaffirmed HHS’s priority in emphasizing health outcomes over procedures and diagnoses. Azar also noted his commitment to transforming the department to be more proactive through innovation and discovery.

Azar ended his address by highlighting the Trump administration’s leadership in funding the National Institutes of Health’s research for childhood cancer, funding for the Cancer Moonshot initiative, and increasing vaccination rates for human papillomavirus.