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J&J CEO: US needs to focus on the long-term sustainability of health care

Eunice Yoon

The U.S. has to push for sustainable improvements to health care, according to the CEO of Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ).

Congressional Republicans unveiled a broad plan for replacing Obamacare on Mar. 6, which was met with harsh resistance from various factions, including medical service providers who said the bill would probably cause many patients to lose insurance and raise healthcare costs.

For J&J CEO Alex Gorsky, the U.S. saw some "good news" for health care under Barack Obama's presidency and the key will be to make smart revisions going forward, he told CNBC from the China Development Forum in Beijing.

"Whether you take the new plan, the old plan, we are going to have to make changes," he said.

"The challenges are that we still have a lot of other issues to take care of how are we going to make sure that we continue to make some of the important improvements to health care, from a quality, from an affordability and from a sustainability point of view," he said. "And I think that's what we're going to have to work on, to bring forth the next round."

Key focuses will be to keep the number of uninsured Americans low and avoid disadvantaging people with difficult conditions, he said.

Gorsky added that Trump's criticism of the pharmaceutical industry and drug prices, is "much broader than just a pharmaceutical issue."

"Health care or pharmaceuticals only represent about 10 to 15 percent of overall health care spend," he said.

Meanwhile, he said, many of the improvements to life expectancy are due to new treatment drugs.

"What's important is to make sure, obviously, that (pharmaceuticals companies) continue to innovate…that we price responsibly and that we work on some of the reimbursement mechanisms, be it Medicare, Medicaid or through private insurance," he said.

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