Representatives from the employee benefits and pharmaceutical fields convened with members of the arthritis patient community, Arthritis Foundation and the federal government in Washington, DC, on October 5-6, 2016, to discuss issues related to arthritis patient barriers to health care. The two-day event featured insightful presentations from industry experts covering topics from how employers make employee benefit decisions to the evolution of healthcare reform.
Arthritis Foundation President & Chief Executive Officer, Ann M. Palmer, opened the event with welcoming remarks about the Foundation’s recent achievements. Palmer’s remarks focused on how the Foundation has positioned itself to be the cause leader for the arthritis community and touched on Foundation successes including: the development of patient tools that provide personalized plans for improving quality-of-life; increasing our tools for families affected by juvenile arthritis to include resources for teens and young adults; and expanding our scientific focus on osteoarthritis (OA) research and creating a Virtual Center of Excellence for OA.
Sandie Preiss, national vice president of the Foundation’s Advocacy & Access program provided an overview of the Foundation’s recent advocacy successes. Preiss noted that, since 2014, 55 state bills that increase access to care for arthritis patients and were supported by the Foundation’s Advocates have become law, and 150 members of Congress (28 percent of Congress) have joined the Congressional Arthritis Caucus – a group composed of members of Congress actively working to increase lawmaker’s awareness of arthritis and legislation that will help the arthritis community. Preiss also spoke about the Foundation’s annual Advocacy Summit and how it brings together volunteers from across the country to Washington, DC, where they learn about the political process and meet with their members of Congress. The 2017 Advocacy Summit will be held on March 6-7. Preiss asked each of the attending companies to support our signature advocacy program and help us reach a record breaking attendance goal of 500 Advocates.
“Today the Arthritis Foundation speaks with one voice across the country,” said Preiss. “And advocacy is an integral part of everything we do.”
“We are driving impact with innovative new tools and taking a more active role at the point of care,” said Cindy McDaniel, senior vice president of the Foundation’s Consumer Health program. McDaniel facilitated a discussion about patient wants, needs and expectations.
Anna Hyde, senior director of Advocacy & Access at the Arthritis Foundation, led a volunteer panel discussion with representatives from the Foundation’s Advocate program. Panelists shared their personal stories about battling arthritis and how their participation in the Ambassador program moved them from being a person with arthritis to an empowered person with arthritis who can influence legislation that increases access to care.
“I’ve lived the provider perspective and the patient perspective,” said Susan Behen, MD, former surgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital who has psoriatic arthritis. “I know the heartache of losing my career to this disease. I have a unique voice as an empowered Advocate for the arthritis community.”
A presentation on the evolution of healthcare reform was led by Michelle Oshman, director of federal advocacy and alliance development at Eli Lilly and chair of the event, and participated in by Marc Boutin, JD, chief executive officer of the National Health Council and Dan Leonard, president of the National Pharmaceutical Council. The discussion focused on the importance of enhanced patient engagement and concerted efforts to ensure the patient’s voice is heard when decisions affecting healthcare policy are considered and finalized.
Andrew Crighton, MD, vice president and chief medical officer of Prudential Life Insurance and chair of the Foundation’s Advocacy Committee led a panel discussion offering insights on how employers make employee benefit coverage decisions. Panelists included Andrea Grande, vice president at Aon Hewitt Health & Benefits Consulting Group, Hiram Satterwhite, FSA, principal and senior health and benefits consultant at Mercer, and Shawn Davis, senior director of formulary solutions at Express Scripts.
Hayden Rhudy, director of therapeutic strategies and government affairs at AbbVie led a panel discussion featuring former House and Senate staff who provided insights about the nuanced and dynamic legislative processes that support the enactment of health related laws and guidelines.