During the historic debate on healthcare reform that consumed much of the last two years, Advamed CEO Stephen Ubl was a constant, albeit quiet, presence at the negotiating table between President Barack Obama and the healthcare industry.
But that’s not to say Ubl’s presence wasn’t felt. After all, if not for effective lobbying, the medical device industry would be facing a much higher portion of the tab for healthcare reform. In fact, AdvaMed and the rest of the medical device lobby were able to cut med-tech’s bill in half, from an estimated $40 billion the original healthcare reform bill to $20 billion over 10 years.
Some of Ubl’s savvy in negotiating the pitfalls of the beltway come from his time as an aide to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), or maybe it’s just the Minnesota native’s Midwest charm. Either way, Ubl is doing his best to put his own imprint on the medical device industry. We asked him to lay out his take on the year that’s about to end and what’s ahead in 2011:
MassDevice New Year’s Special P/review
- P/review: Introduction
- P/review: Paul LaViolette
- P/review: Stephen Ubl
- P/review: David Lucchino
- P/review: Euan Thomson
- P/review: Brian DeChristopher
- P/review: Christopher Delporte
- P/review: Don Hardison
- P/review: Brent Hudson
- P/review: Hamid Tatabaie
- P/review: Patrick Dentinger
- P/review: Nancy Briefs
- P/review: Brian Concannon
- P/review: Ryan Howard
- P/review: Ed Berger
- P/review: Top stories of 2010
As it was in 2010, we anticipate proposed changes to the 510(k) process will be one of our most pressing issues in 2011. This process has served patients well for more than 30 years, has an excellent safety record and helps facilitate innovation and is thus critical to patient care and America’s leadership in medical innovation. Recently there has been a marked deterioration in the efficiency and predictability of the 510(k) program – to the detriment of American patients and competitiveness. We support changes to the 510(k) process that will strengthen the current program, have a clear public health benefit and do not create patient access delays. As discussions begin to reauthorize user fees next year, industry is committed to working with FDA and Congress to forge an agreement on a legislative package that includes improved performance goals and reasonable user fees.
Another priority for the coming year will be to ensure that payment system reforms that reward quality and efficiency under health care reform legislation protect patient choice, physician autonomy and allow for continued medical innovation.
With more than 100 new Members of Congress coming to Washington, DC, next year, one of the Association’s chief challenges will be to educate these new lawmakers about us and our industry: the unique benefits medical technology provides to American patients in terms on life-changing innovation, how medical advancements can add efficiencies to the system and thus lower overall health care costs, and the economic benefits we bring in the form of good-paying, 21^st Century jobs to communities large and small throughout the country. Beyond educating about the benefits our industry provides we need to help these new (as well as returning) Members understand the impact regulatory and reimbursement policies can have on America’s role as the leading producer of medical innovation. Fortunately, we have a compelling story to tell, especially as economic and health care are likely to be dominant issues in the next Congress.
My resolution for 2011 is to help ensure medical technology remains an important manufacturing industry and a driver of current and future U.S. economic growth. Today, America is the acknowledged world leader in medical technology, as it is in the other life sciences industries. But that leadership is being challenged. Without new public policies to provide a level playing field between the U.S. and foreign competitors, America’s leadership will be lost and with it an important engine of economic growth and manufacturing job creation. At a more profound level, if American leadership in the life sciences industries is lost, America’s long-term future as the world’s most powerful economy will be jeopardized. One of my priorities in 2011 will be to promote regulatory, reimbursement, trade and tax policies that will help the U.S. retain our status as #1.