Our 2021 Public Policy Priorities


By Maddie Mason, Senior Associate, Policy  

The National Health Council’s (NHC’s) policy matrix serves as a roadmap for our public policy initiatives. The policy matrix is designed to help us prioritize our policy work and fulfill our mission of providing a united voice for the 160 million people living with chronic diseases and disabilities and their family caregivers. The matrix is composed of health care issues that have been deemed the most pressing to patients. 

Our Board Policy Committee develops the policy matrix with input from our member organizations. Input is obtained from members though our annual issue survey, monthly Health Care Reform and Medical Innovation Action Team meetings, and our annual Washington Representatives Retreat. If you are an NHC member and would like to become more involved in our policy making process and activities, please reach out to meMaddie Mason. 

The NHC policy matrix is divided into four quadrants: Lead, Partner, Engage as Needed, and MonitorThe matrix is a scale that places issues based on the NHC’s ability to make an impact and the importance to the patient community. Below are the health care issues represented in the matrix. 


It is important to note that Equity’s placement in the middle of the matrix is to indicate that the NHC will ensure it is an essential part of all NHC’s policy activities and not represented by of the scale of the importance to the patient advocacy community nor the NHC’s ability to impact. The NHC is specifically focusing on: 

  • Promoting an inclusive, equitable, accessible, and high-quality care delivery system; 
  • Advocating for equitable access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage; 
  • Partnering with organizations that have a track record in addressing social determinants of health to reduce health disparities; and  
  • Collaborating with the biomedical and health-services research and the health economics ecosystem to support equity in development and valuation of new and innovative treatments and services, including the collection and reporting of demographic factors in research to include race, disability status, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and gender identity, and other factors to help identify and eliminate biases. 

 To learn more about the NHC’s health equity work, please read our blog and visit our website, or reach out to Director, Policy, Jennifer Dexter, who is leading the NHC’s health equity initiative. 

Lead Quadrant: 

The Lead quadrant represents the issue areas that the NHC will take a leading role in addressing. For each of these, we develop principles, specific recommendations, and directly advocate for them with policymakers. Below are the four main areas that the NHC and our Board Policy Committee deemed as pressing issues that the NHC could take a leading role: 

  • Patient Access: The NHC will lead on efforts to help reduce patient access barriers, including utilization management, cost-sharing, and other restrictions on access. We are also looking to drive the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to better incorporate patient engagement into their decisions that impact coverage and reimbursement of products and services. 
  • Health Care CostsThe top issues related to reducing health care costs that the NHC will focus on will be redesigning Medicare Part D to have an out-of-pocket cap, promoting systemwide transparency of costs and cost-sharingand better consideration of patients’ perspectives in value assessment, outcomesbased contracts, and valuebased arrangements. Check out our policy proposals for reducing health care costs for more information. 
  • COVID-19: The NHC will continue to lead efforts on nonprofit support, including making sure patient organizations are included in financial aid, such as the paycheck protection program. We are also supportive of provisions to ensure people with chronic disease and disabilities can seek and access the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more about our advocacy endeavors during the pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 webpage. 
  • Medical Innovation: The NHC is actively engaged on issues related to bringing new treatments and cures to patients. The majority of our work includes bringing the patient perspective into medical research. This includes not only clinical trial design but also real-world evidence and core impact sets. Notably, we have a number of recommendations for inclusion in the next reauthorization of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA). To learn more see our letter to FDA on PDUFA VII or check out our blog. 

Partner Quadrant: 

The Partner quadrant represents areas that NHC will actively partner with our member organizations to address prominent health care issues. Many of our member organizations already have their own initiatives regarding issues that patients and their family caregivers care most about. Similarly, there are many coalitions in Washington that the NHC belongs to and work alongside to ensure the patient voice is represented.  

The specific issues we plan to partner with our members and other organizations on, include:  

  • Telehealth 
  • Quality Measurement  
  • Copay Accumulators 
  • Increasing and Improving Insurance Coverage including: 
    • Affordable Care Act (ACA) Market Improvement 
    • Creating New Paths to Insurance 
    • Medicare and Medicaid Oversight and Improvement 
  • Health Appropriations  

Engage as Needed Quadrant 

The Engage as Needed Quadrant includes issues that we will continue to watch and will actively engage if deemed appropriate. Included in this quadrant is the implementation of the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute’s (PCORI) recent reauthorization and surprise medical billing legislation 

To learn more about our previous work on the Reauthorization of PCORI, please check out our Domains & Values or our blogFor more on our previous efforts regarding surprise medical billing, please read the sign-on letter sent by patients groups supporting surprise medical billing legislation to Congressional leadership last year. 

Monitor Quadrant: 

The Monitor quadrant consists of issues that the NHC will watch closely but not actively engage. The issues in this quadrant include the Medical Device User Fee Amendment (MDUFA), the Generic Drug User Fee Amendment (GDUFA), the Biosimilar Drug User Fee Amendment (BsUFA), and opioids and pain Management.  

If you have any questions about the NHC’s public policy program, please reach out to the Vice President, Policy & Government Affairs, Eric Gascho