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The District Policy Group Digest

Summer 2020

As we approach our nation’s birthday — a celebration of freedom and independence — the District Policy Group (DPG) joins with our clients, friends, colleagues and communities across the nation in raising our voices to call for equality, justice and an end to racism. We will redouble our efforts to advance policies and programs that address health disparities and take other actions to remedy the underlying causes of inequity in our nation. We are proud that Faegre Drinker has stepped forward to do its part to combat racism, as pledged in a message from firm leadership.

We hope that you and those you hold dear are in good health as we approach the 4th of July holiday and we wish everyone a safe and relaxing holiday weekend.

Lobbying and Advocacy in a COVID-19 World

Despite the COVID-19-related disruption to “regular order” here in D.C., DPG quickly adapted to continue with a robust schedule of activities with and for our clients. The recent events described below illustrate our unwavering commitment to help clients continue to advance their policy and advocacy goals and navigate these unprecedented times.

Faegre Drinker COVID-19 Resource Center

Faegre Drinker maintains a robust and timely Coronavirus Resource Center to provide tools to help organizations and companies fully understand and assess the legal, regulatory and commercial implications of COVID-19. Members of our COVID-19 Task Force are monitoring the public health emergency closely and regularly adding new information to the Resource Center as circumstances evolve. DPG actively contributes to this firm-wide effort, with Jodie Curtis, DPG Executive Vice President and Laura Hanen, DPG Senior Vice President serving as leaders of the COVID-19 Advocacy Working Group along with Faegre Drinker Partner J. Murray Clark and Principal Brandon W. Kirkham. If DPG or the firm can be of assistance to you or your colleagues regarding the pandemic or other matters, please do not hesitate to reach out to your regular team contact.

Team News

Ilisa Halpern Paul, DPG President, was a featured guest on the American Urological Association’s (AUA’s) “Inside Tract” podcast titled “What Urologists Should Know about the CARES Act,” released in early April. Ilisa discussed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and how key parts of the new law could support practicing urologists and those who own and operate their urology practices, who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was the second podcast DPG did for client AUA. Last year DPG Senior Advisor and former Congressman Phil Gingrey, MD, participated in “Inside Tract: Episode 47” on Advocacy Q&A.

In early spring,Jodie Curtis, DPG Executive Vice President, teamed with Faegre Drinker partners James Sawyer, Nick Guzman and Nate Bolin (who also serves on the DPG’s Advisory Board) on a webinar for the American Gear Manufacturers Association in partnership with the American Bearing Manufacturers Association. The webinar covered legislative, trade and supply chain issues. Jodie discussed the highlights of the COVID-19 economic rescue packages passed by Congress and provided an update and look ahead to congressional action on trade and supply chain issues. She then presented deeper dives into current specific trade and supply chain topics affecting the trade association.

Jodie also presented, in conjunction with her Faegre Drinker colleagues, to the National Electrical Contractors Association on the COVID-19 rescue packages. Her remarks focused on the provisions of the bill such as small business loans and new tax provisions that could assist the trade association’s members.

In the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, DPG Senior Advisor and former Congressman Dr. Phil Gingrey responded to the increase in maternal deaths over the past 25 years. Dr. Gingrey became an obstetrician and gynecologist decades ago, and during the years he practiced, maternal deaths steadily dropped. That trend began to reverse about 25 years ago and, in Dr. Gingrey’s view, the United States now faces a crisis. In his article “Maternal Mortality: A U.S. Public Health Crisis,” he presents the case for the U.S. Congress and all participants in the U.S. health care system to address the matter with urgency.

DPG Senior Vice President Laura Hanen contributed to the virtual annual meeting in April of the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists by recording a session, as part of its Forum on the Future, on how CPNP’s government affairs and policy activities are serving the membership.



Jim Twaddell, DPG Senior Vice President, joined the staff of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) on February 5 to testify before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, along with NATA President Tory Lindley, MA, ATC. The hearing, “Athletic Safety and the Integrity of U.S. Sport,” focused on issues related to sexual abuse in sports, physical health, safety of athletes and removal of performance-enhancing drugs from sports. Other witnesses included Ju’Riese Colón, CEO of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

On April 29, long-standing DPG client, the American Nephrology Nurses Association introduced its “COVID-19 Surge Support Tool.” The tool enables organizations to submit and share information about current needs for nephrology staff while clinicians are able to search by state to quickly identify and contact facilities with openings. Jim worked with the ANNA National Office staff to help share the information about the “COVID-19 Surge Support Tool” with organizations in the renal and nursing communities and with the media. Access the support tool here.

DPG Special Advisor Elaine Vining’s remote work and her daughter's distance learning merged when in the spring she was asked to present to her daughter’s high school economics class on novel coronavirus legislative initiatives. Elaine noted that that it was a great, shared experience and that she got some terrific questions from the students.

Featured Events

ALS Association Hosts a Robust Roundtable Discussion – Sans Table

Over the course of two days – one in late April and one in mid-May – DPG client The ALS Association hosted its spring roundtable, “Shortening the Time to Diagnosis,” using a virtual format. The goals of the roundtable were to identify the principal reasons why people with ALS often have missed or delayed diagnoses and to prioritize practical and impactful solutions for addressing the issue.

The Association in early March recognized that even if some participants could travel to be together in person, that in-person attendance likely would not be feasible nor safe for patients and their caregivers. Working in collaboration with DPG President Ilisa Halpern Paul, the meeting facilitator and roundtable consultant, the Association quickly shifted plans, and with Ilisa’s help redesigned the program to keep everyone safe and ensure full participation.

Typically, the Association’s roundtables are all-day meetings involving significant participant interaction, dynamic facilitated discussion, panel presentations and consensus-building activities – including voting on priorities. While moving to a virtual format, the Association was able to maintain all of those important elements.

One of the biggest challenges was managing an on-line facilitated conversation among a group of more than 55 people. The solution – using GoToMeeting – was to make the morning a plenary format with introductions, an overview of the roundtable goals and objectives, and two panel discussions for level-setting among all participants. In the afternoon three smaller breakout sessions of 15–20 participants were held, during which Ilisa asked the groups to address certain questions to facilitate conversation and allow for continuity across the roundtable experience.

Following day one, the Association circulated to the participants the summary meeting notes, a list of identified reasons for missed or delayed diagnosis, and the consensus data on practical and impactful solutions. Participants were given a survey to rank the challenges and the solutions to further refine the focus for the second day of facilitated conversation.

During the second part of the roundtable, all participants gathered via RingCentral and in a two-hour period heard the results of the survey and participated in Ilisa-facilitated lightning rounds of discussion on the top three identified solutions, along with a brief round robin session during which each participant had the opportunity to champion which solution they felt was the most important for the Association to pursue.

The Association noted that the virtual format not only allowed everyone to safely and conveniently participate but also allow busy clinicians, who would not have been able to travel for the meeting due to clinic demands, to join the conversation and share their insights.

Rave reviews were sent to the Association staff after the meeting: “It was extremely well put together, effectively organized and very insightful. You clearly did a lot of work behind the scenes to create such a successful event, especially at a time when it had to be virtual,” and “It was so well run that I’m not sure the engagement would have been better if the meeting were in person.”

Calaneet Balas, ALS Association CEO, said of the meeting, “We had a very productive and meaningful series of conversations. All of our participants were deeply engaged and driven to help solve the many challenges facing our community. We are grateful that social distancing has not slowed our ability to convene some of the top minds on these critical issues.”

The top takeaway: In a time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders, roundtable conversations can be meaningful, fruitful and inclusive and do not need an actual table.

Looking Through the Beltway Crystal Ball: The Current Federal Health Policy Outlook
Health Care Amid and After COVID-19 Webinar Series #7

With an unprecedented political environment created by COVID-19 and the 2020 presidential election just months away, it is essential for leaders in all facets of health care to get a read on what is likely to happen with respect to health policy and gain insight into how best to plan for various scenarios. In case you missed it, on June 25, Ilisa Halpern Paul, President of the District Policy Group at Faegre Drinker, moderated an insightful bipartisan panel discussion among her colleagues: Jodie Curtis, District Policy Group Executive Vice President; Sarah-Lloyd Stevenson, Director at Faegre Drinker Consulting; and David Ault, Counsel in the Health Law Group at Faegre Drinker. You can view a recording of the panel discussion on demand and also share it with others.

Other Faegre Drinker Events

In May, Faegre Drinker presented online opportunities to engage with U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (MS) and Bill Cassidy (LA):

  • On May 19 the firm hosted an interactive webinar discussion with Senator Wicker on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the American economy and what policies he is prioritizing as the country looks to reopen.
  • On May 21, Dr. Phil Gingrey joined Faegre Drinker Principal Nicholas Manetto for a conversation with Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D., to discuss the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, actions to safely resume economic activity, and his ongoing work on the pandemic and related health care issues.

In June, Faegre Drinker presented a Health Care webinar series entitled “Health Care Amid and After COVID-19: How Providers Can Harness This Moment.” Recordings of the seven-webinar series are available to view on demand.