In his latest commentary for Chain Drug Review, National Pharmaceutical Council (NPC) President and CEO Dan Leonard explores the health care concerns and ideas for improvement discussed at recent regional town halls hosted by the Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC) and NPC.

Participants at the town halls expressed a clear desire for more access to preventive care, which has been shown to improve health outcomes.  But, he writes, “our health care system doesn’t always make it easy for people to get the care they need. Two significant barriers include health insurance deductibles and co-pays and social determinants of health.”

Other areas of concern: “the need for greater transparency in health care costs, reducing wasteful spending and even the thorny issue of end-of-life care.”

Since the town halls were held, there has been progress on those topics, such as a federal guidance allowing health savings account-eligible high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) the flexibility to cover essential medications and services used to treat chronic diseases prior to meeting the plan deductible. And the Going Below The Surface forum – a group of more than 20 organizations, including NPC and HLC, dedicated to tackling the drivers of health care spending – is examining ways to reduce low-value care and planning to host additional regional town halls.

There is still more work to be done to improve health care, notes Leonard, and it’s important to hear from people outside of the Washington, DC, Beltway. Sometimes the best ideas “come from town hall meetings or kitchen table conversations across the country,” and those ideas should make it back to Washington, DC, for consideration.