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Priorities and Patient Advocacy Going into 2025: WHIC Meeting Recap

May 20, 2024 Washington, D.C.--

At the DC headquarters of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, our Washington Health Innovation Council partners and attendees engaged in an important and wide-ranging meeting focused on (1) how policymakers in 2025 might address the life sciences environment, (2) patient and provider advocacy and exploring new ways grassroots Americans, providers and innovators can work together in increasing access and (3) a lightning round focused on telemedicine, highlights from our innovators partners, and a thoughtful mini-presentation from author Jim Pinkerton about regulatory barriers to drug approvals.

The highlight was clearly the fireside chat with former HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan and currently CEO of the Hargan Group.  Few healthcare leaders have dealt with as many major issues and during the most important times in the past 30 years. As with previous speaker, former Secretary Alex Azar, the focus turned to kidney care.  Jack Kalavritinos asked the former HHS DepSec for his perspective on health policy trends, his thoughts on possible new regulatory and reimbursement policy directions in 2025, specifically about how his pro-innovation approaches at HHS, like Kidney-X as a model for future agency efforts to spur new approaches and investment.

The Q&A was energetic and former DepSec Hargan gave attendees a first-hand view of the policy discussions and the probable priorities and those areas where decisions have yet to be made. As a frequently mentioned candidate for the top job at HHS in a new Administration, he walked through a range of possible policy changes.  Our lightning round which allows our partners to educate and engage with attendees on their efforts, innovations and efforts to build support for greater regulatory certainty and reimbursement.

Pressures on Ophthalmologists and private practices: Rebecca Hyder shared their priorities and advancements including, but not limited to, their support of H.R. 3173, the Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021. Overall, ensuring access to treatments - whether drugs or treatments - continues to be a challenge.

Prevent Blindness: Their goal is to help American suffering from vision-related diseases or conditions, and discussed how early detection and education are key to prevention.

Updates: Last week they introduced early detection to bipartisan bill with Gus Bilirakis (NDVI Act), as currently there's no direct support; Medicaid and plans have vision screenings and well checks but not a real system of care. The Bill enables advances in a systems-based approach as opposed to a state-by-state approach - with some ahead, some behind, and some using guidelines from decades ago. Funding to initiate process of screening and follow up, to ensure care for a child.


Eric Hargan


The Problems We Solve: 

  • Healthcare appointments are rarely convenient for the patient.  Provider schedules are frequently left unbalanced, and no shows cause a significant loss of revenue.

  • Current productivity tools and performance evaluation models are subjective and do not reward staff based on the tasks they are performing daily. This creates inefficiency and incentivizes high performers to job hop.

SeaStar Medical:

Jim Pinkerton

  • Author and strategist on the impact on the regulatory state on drug approvals

  • "The number of new drugs approved per billion US dollars spent on R&D has halved roughly every 9 years since 1950, falling around 80-fold in inflation-adjusted terms."

  • Recent Book and Review: 

    • The Secret of Directional Investing: Making Money Amidst the Red-Blue Rumble: Pinkerton, James P.: 9798888450482.

    • “Like others I’ve met who worked in the Regan White House, Jim Pinkerton has a sharp mind and is an independent thinker. Directional Investing is full of great economic and historic anecdotes and frameworks that are helpful to understand and think about the past, and also how to understand—and shape—the future.” -- Joe Lonsdale, Founder of Palantir and 8VC

  • Pinkerton: The Proliferation of 'Disinformation' Media and AI Puts More Bricks in the Wall

ATA legislative Update: 

US Chamber BASIC Coalition Opposing the Unprecedented Biden March in Proposal



Next WHIC Forum – June 26, 3:00 – 4:30

Battling Neurological Disorders and Federal Policies Creating Headwinds to Approvals

and Access with Special Guest speaker Rep Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Chair of E&C Innovation, Subcommittee and senior member of the Health Subcommittee (and possible Health Chair in the next Congress)

Location: US Chamber U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1615 H Street, NW, Wash DC

Reception: After the meeting, the US Chamber is hosting a reception for the WHICH and friends of the US Chamber and JKS.



Brian Blase: Paragon released a new paper that I coauthored with Theo Merkel, Follow the Money: How Tax Policy Shapes Health Care. 

The executive summary of the paper appears at the bottom of the newsletter, and Theo and I are doing an event on the paper on Capitol Hill on June 11, 2024, at 1pm, which you can register for here.  

Grace Marie Turner: While marijuana legalization has not been a focus of our meetings this is a heartfelt message from GMT and highlights how a political outcome seemingly outweighed the views from the DEA. 

Tevi Troy (future speaker): Why the Republican Party Needs a Platform

WHIC partner: Leavitt Partners' IRA Drug Pricing Litigation Symposium 

Tue, Jun 25, 2024, 8:45 AM — 12:30 PM EDT

Join Leavitt Partners for their IRA Drug Pricing Litigation Symposium. This off-the-record program explores the nuances of the constitutional and administrative claims in the litigation challenging the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Program, separate from the partisan divisiveness surrounding the IRA.

Symposium speakers are attorneys and legal scholars who will dive into the significance of the litigation and discuss the long-term impacts of these claims, contributing novel legal insight into an area fraught with politics.

The event is in-person at Leavitt Partners’ Washington, D.C. office, with a virtual option. Participants will include congressional staff, policymakers, industry representatives, lawyers, patient organizations, scholars, and others interested in learning more. The event is not open to media.



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