Dania Palanker (center) from the Center on Health Insurance Reforms presenting at the Fall Roundtable. 

The roundtable began with presentations from leading health care policy experts, including Dania Palanker, Assistant Research Professor at the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown’s Health Policy Institute. Dania kicked off the day with an overview of the contemporary health policy landscape heading into the 116thCongress. Her presentation was followed by an analysis of key federal and state access challenges from Steven Newmark, Director of Policy and General Counsel at the Global Healthy Living Foundation. The morning’s presentations were closed by Jim Parker, Senior Advisor to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Director of the HHS Office of Health Reform, who outlined the administration’s efforts to improve patient access to care for chronic disease patients. Time was allotted for questions, and collaborative discussions followed each presentation.  

In the afternoon, DDNC institutional member representatives highlighted current and emerging patient access issues that their organizations have observed throughout the country. These presentations prompted a comprehensive dialogue which sought to summarize common goals of each of the organizations assembled and identify promising solutions to access challenges. Through this comprehensive discussion, the group outlined three priorities that will help to advance access to quality and affordable health care for patients with digestive diseases:

Patients with chronic conditions have been bombarded by efforts to increase their already prohibitive share of the cost burden for access to quality, affordable care and treatment. DDNC will address these tactics that shift costs onto the patient and unduly increase out-of-pocket spending through a policy statement. This statement will highlight several of these common practices, including step therapy protocols, non-medical switching, and co-pay accumulator adjustment programs.

Health literacy and the availability of transparent information on navigating health insurance coverage were also identified as barriers to access for patients with chronic health conditions. DDNC will solicit comprehensible resources from each of its member organizations in this regard and comprise them into a readily accessible format to assist patients with navigating coverage options.

DDNC will work to establish a campaign to share these resources with key decision makers and health policy leaders in an effort to improve the public discourse and effect meaningful outcomes on these issues.

Many thanks to the DDNC's Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and our institutional member representatives for making this year's Policy Roundtable a great success. We hope all DDNC members will join us back in Washington, DC at our Spring Public Policy Forum, March 3 – 4, 2019.

Dr. Ralph McKibbin, DDNC President, (left) and Dr. Stanley Benjamin

Many thanks to the DDNC's Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, and the Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington for making this year's Public Policy Forum a great success. We hope all DDNC members will continue to advocate for its legislative priorities, and DDNC will continue to keep member organizations updated on progress in achieving these goals.

Dr. Steve James, Director of the Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition at NIDDK. 

The American Gastroenterological Association hosted a dinner and listening session for state GI society leaders and representatives from around the country. These doctors were able to share their goals and ideas for the coming year and receive helpful feedback from one another. This was a continuation of an ongoing series of discussions that will continue during future events.

The DDNC presented its Congressional Distinguished Public Service Award to Congressman Ryan Costello [R-PA-06]. Congressman Costello has been a champion for patients with chronic digestive conditions, continuing to work to ensure their protection under any health reform proposals. The Congressman also co-chairs the Crohn's and Colitis Caucus.

Summary Report
DDNC Fall Institutional & Board Member Policy Roundtable
October 30, 2018

The Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC) hosted its annual Fall Institutional & Board Member Policy Roundtable on Tuesday, October 30, 2018. Representatives from over 30 DDNC constituent and institutional member organizations gathered together at the Johnson & Johnson Washington office for a one-day forum to explore industry and board priorities on patient access that will help to inform the DDNC Policy Agenda. 

Dr. Ralph McKibbin, DDNC President, (left) and Congressman Ryan Costello [R-PA-06].

The DDNC Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Stanley Benjamin. Dr. Benjamin has previously served on the board of the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), as well as having served as President of the DDNC, in addition to an accomplished career in gastroenterology practice.

Meetings & Events

HHS Senior Advisor Jim Parker (far left) takes questions from the group on the administration’s recent actions on health reform.

Summary Report
DDNC 28th Annual Public Policy Forum
March 4 – 5, 2018

The Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC) 28th Annual Public Policy Forum was held on March 4thand 5th, 2018 at the Phoenix Park Hotel in Washington, DC. Over 100 patient advocates, gastrointestinal physicians, and industry representatives attended and made approximately 120 visits on Capitol Hill to advocate for the DDNC's legislative priorities in research, patient access to care, and prevention & awareness.

Attendees heard from a diverse collection of speakers, including physicians, Federal agency representatives, patients, and industry representatives, covering topics from step therapy to drug research and development to personal experiences with patient access issues. These presentations sought to educate attendees on important issues that motivated their advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. In addition, the audience heard a legislative overview and received an advocacy training session from DDNC's Washington Representative, Dale Dirks.