The NHC’s Policymaking Process


By Eric Gascho, Vice President, Policy & Government Affairs

The National Health Council (NHC) has a member-driven policy development process, which was just completed for 2019. Our patient advocate members take the lead in this process.
Board of Directors, Board Policy Committee, and Action Teams

Each December, the NHC’s broad public policy agenda for the following year is set by its Board of Directors, including its Board Policy Committee, both of which have patient advocacy group CEOs as majority members. These priorities are revisited every summer to ensure that our priorities are the most important to address.

Throughout the year, multi-stakeholder Action Teams explore the policy goals set by the Board, analyze current legislation and the environment, and provide recommendations. This feedback is directly used by the NHC in developing a set of policy principles, which we call Domains and Values, for important topics in health care.

Once these are drafted, they are taken to the Board Policy Committee, which discusses and amends them before approval by the Board. These principles help to guide the NHC’s policy and advocacy work by allowing us to respond to new legislation or regulations in a small amount of time.

If a new policy meets our Domains and Values, we support it. If it does not, we oppose it or offer thoughts on how it can be improved to meet the needs of people with chronic conditions. One great example of this process is our Domains and Values for Patient-Focused Health Care Reform, which you can view here.

If you’d like to learn more about the NHC’s current Action Teams, read our blog posts about the Medical Innovation Action Team and the Health Care Reform Action Team.

Washington Representatives Retreat

Another important avenue for us to discuss pertinent topics in health policy is our annual Washington Representatives Retreat. This one-and-a-half-day conference brings together government relations professionals to discuss the current landscape in health care policy. Our 2018 Washington Representatives Retreat took place on November 29 and 30 in Annapolis, MD.

At the retreat, our member organizations help to steer the NHC’s specific policy and advocacy priorities for 2019. We also held a breakout session where our members discussed the changes they would like to see in the way we conduct policy work, so that we can make our process more efficient and facilitate even more collaboration in the coming year.

We heard many important perspectives through discussions with attendees and speakers on topics such as drug pricing, universal access, and patient-focused drug development. These perspectives will help us to emphasize the voice of patients and family caregivers in ways that our member organizations feel are most effective.

Each of the groups detailed above is essential in our policy and advocacy work, and we look forward to our continued efforts in 2019 and beyond.