Federation of American Hospitals

Jonathan Jagoda, Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs

For almost two years, our nation’s hospitals and health systems have shown extreme resilience despite the historic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and frontline caregivers across a multitude of health care settings swiftly adapted to the ever-evolving threat of the virus and saved countless lives. But it is clear severe threats will persist well into 2022 and potentially beyond.

Our frontline heroes continue to care for patients and serve their communities 24/7/365, but the stress created by COVID-19 is putting a huge strain on an already stretched workforce. Over the coming weeks and months, experts say many health care workers are expected to miss time because of breakthrough infections. Combine that with the unprecedented health care worker burnout, and record retirement among veteran caregivers, and we are facing a chronic shortage of qualified staff -- a troubling situation made more difficult by the behavior of travel nurse companies -- that threatens access and impedes hospitals’ ability to respond to the pandemic and prepare for the next emergency.

At the onset of the pandemic, the U.S. Congress and Administration stepped up to provide vital emergency funding, and regulatory relief, that ensured access to care for millions by helping keep hospital doors open. However, with the 2% Medicare sequester set to resume in six months and Provider Relief Funds nearly exhausted, many facilities will once again face significant fiscal challenges. With the unpredictable nature and impact of COVID variants, there is the real possibility that lawmakers may once again need to allocate resources to struggling hospitals. This is illustrated by a report by Kaufman, Hall & Associates released by the American Hospital Association in late September covering a period when the Delta variant surge was beginning and well before Omicron, that showed U.S. hospitals were on pace to lose an estimated $54 billion in net income in 2021, even with the support of federal relief funds.

Hospitals are also coping with supply chain issues that are causing shortages of - and price increases for - everything from needed personal protective equipment to vital medicines.

Unfortunately, 2022 is starting much like 2021, with spiking COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the nation. As the pandemic enters its third year, the long-term impacts on hospitals, health systems and the communities they serve are difficult to project. Widely available vaccines and advanced therapies are helping, but it is clear the road to a full, durable recovery for our sector will be long and bumpy. Regardless, as always, hospitals will do what must be done to fulfill their community mission.

Key Takeaway

  • U.S. hospitals were on pace to lose an estimated $54 billion in net income in 2021, even with the support of federal relief funds.

Consumer Healthcare Products Association (CHPA)

Scott Melville, President and Chief Executive Officer

Now, more than ever, consumers are taking greater responsibility for, and control over, their health care. Nearly 70 percent of Americans do something to support their health and wellness several days a week. The consumer healthcare industry – which includes manufacturers of over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, dietary supplements, and consumer medical devices – empowers consumers and health systems with safe, effective, and beneficial products that help Americans to get well and stay well.

Despite challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been incredible progress and transformation in the consumer healthcare industry and soaring demand for self-care products. On average, U.S. households spend over $440 annually on OTC products, and consumers benefit from self-treating conditions such as the common cold, allergies, pain, gastrointestinal (GI) issues, fungal infections, skin inflammation, smoking cessation, sleep issues, and much more. OTC medicines enable the healthcare system to utilize its limited resources on the diagnosis and treatment of more serious diseases that necessitate the direct involvement of a physician, while at the same time providing safe, effective, and accessible treatment for a range of conditions. In fact, for every $1 spent on OTC medicines, the U.S. healthcare system saves $7, a total of $146 billion in savings to our economy, and growing.

Self-care has also emerged as a critical component of public health. Over the past two years, the global pandemic drove tremendous acceleration of self-care as Americans increasingly sought to prevent exposure (with consumer healthcare products like hand sanitizers, face masks, etc.), to test and monitor for illness (with at-home COVID test kits and thermometers), to support immunity (with dietary supplements), and to relieve and manage symptoms (with pain relievers and other OTCs). In 2020 alone, sales for OTC products grew 6 percent, nutritionals grew 26 percent, and medical devices grew 27 percent. This rapid growth, combined with global supply chain issues during COVID, has presented challenges for manufacturers. But, CHPA members are committed to omnichannel access to their products and are working to keep supplies at levels that meet demand while maintaining the high safety and quality that consumers expect.

CHPA recently achieved long-sought modernization of the OTC Monograph system – the primary regulatory structure affecting most OTC medicines – and a top priority for CHPA is to enable continued industry growth through easing regulatory burdens that allow for more pathways to prescription-to-nonprescription (Rx-to-OTC) switch, for example. CHPA is also advocating for modernization of the regulatory structure for dietary supplements to strengthen confidence and safety in this sector and expand opportunities for industry to bring new, safe, and beneficial products to market. Additionally, our industry is focused on the exciting promise of digital health and its potential for radically improving and expanding self-care even more.

The consumer healthcare industry innovates solutions that enable people to be more proactive about their health and provides an opportunity to address their needs in a way that elevates self-care to an essential part of their lives. Our commitment to ensuring consumers have ready access to OTC drugs, dietary supplements, and consumer medical devices has never been stronger, and CHPA’s vision of “happier, healthier lives through responsible self-care” remains a cornerstone of our mission.

Key Takeaway

  • With 6 percent growth in the OTC sector, 26 percent in dietary supplements, and consumer medical devices 27 percent growth in 2020, combined with supply chain challenges that are endemic to a wide range of manufacturers, keeping products on shelf to meet consumer demand is a current business and workforce challenge.