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Heart health complications challenge millions of people worldwide each year. An estimated 102 million Americans have high cholesterol, with more than 35 million of these at high risk for heart disease. Globally, 17.5 million people die of cardiovascular disease annually.

In recent years, innovative advanced medical therapies and medical devices have emerged to offer new treatment options for patients – medications that better control symptoms or reduce side effects that complicate treatment. But health plan coverage has been slow to accommodate breakthrough treatments. Insurers instead have clung to older, less expensive therapies, using restrictive policy design to limit patient access.

Budget-focused policies that assume a one-size-fits-all approach to managing high cholesterol can put patient health at risk. They can also allow cost-cutting tactics to trump physician insight. For patients to benefit from breakthrough treatments for cardiovascular conditions, health policy must support access and decisions about clinical care must continue to take shape within the physician-patient relationship.