Coalition Rising Leaders Conference: Industry Advocacy Will Help Shape Healthcare’s Political Landscape

May 17, 2016 — Healthcare policy improvements are underway in Washington, and industry advocacy makes a difference—that was the recurring message from speakers to an overflow audience of rising leaders in the healthcare communication industry as they met in Washington last week for an overview of healthcare policy in the evolving political landscape.

“Much of the finger pointing in Washington is driven by a desire to control costs,” according to keynote speaker Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV), a member of the House Appropriations Committee. Yet Congressman Jenkins noted the progress last week in bringing a series of bipartisan measures addressing the prescription opioid epidemic to votes in the House of Representatives, as well as other examples of successes in “fixing the little things” that can stand in the way of quality health care. He also affirmed that freedom of speech issues are important, and urged the audience to be advocates.

The first Rising Leaders Conference on Healthcare Policy, sponsored by the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, brought together key executives and up-and-coming stars from major healthcare agency networks, leading independent communications agencies, medical publishers, and digital content providers. They heard and interacted with speakers from Congress, healthcare consultancies such as The RPM Report and 1798 Consultants, attorneys with experience in Food and Drug Administration issues, lobbyists on advertising and free speech issues, and the CEOs of three of the largest healthcare communications groups.

“The healthcare communications industry plays a critical role in our healthcare system, and it is vital for rising leaders to better understand the complexities of healthcare policy, integrate that understanding into their work, and be prepared to advocate for legislation and regulatory initiatives to further improve medical therapy and patient care,” said Coalition Conference Chair Jon Bigelow, president of Thayer Pond Solutions LLC. “The strong interest in this Conference reflects that these talented professionals are ready and eager to get involved.”

The Conference, held May 11 at the National Press Club, included detailed discussion of recent initiatives within the FDA, as well as legislation, such as the 21st Century Cures Act, to make the drug approval process more efficient. Issues in determining the value of new drugs, ensuring proper reimbursement, and avoiding obstacles to appropriate promotion of new pharmaceuticals also were important topics of discussion. A panel of agency CEOs noted that there are widespread misconceptions of the process for introducing lifesaving therapies, and discussed how healthcare communicators can help improve public understanding.

Additional coverage of the meeting will follow. For a summary of one of the Coalition sessions on the advertising tax deduction, see this story from Medical Marketing & Media: