National Consumers League

NCL health policy updates | Health Advisory Council Newsletter | 2019 Q2

NCL health policy at work

ICYMI: Fifth Annual Spring Membership Meeting

On June 20, NCL hosted the Fifth Annual Spring Membership Meeting of its Health Advisory Council. In light of the ongoing measles outbreak, NCL devoted this meeting to effective vaccine policies to ensure herd immunity. The meeting featured a panel of experts engaged in the issues surrounding immunization.

Panelists included Health Reporter Lena Sun, from the Washington Post; Dr. Melinda Wharton from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Kim Nelson, founder of South Carolina Parents for Vaccines; and DC-based pediatrician and immunology expert, Dr. Linda Fu of Children’s National Hospital.

The panelists talked about the anti-vaccine and vaccine hesitancy movement and the record number of measles cases in the US, the largest since 1992. Panelists pointed out key differences between vaccine-hesitant and anti-vaccine sentiments and discussed strategies for framing the issue for vaccine-hesitant parents.  

Click here for a summary of the panelists’ remarks.

Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge

In May, NCL concluded the eighth annual Script Your Future Medication Adherence Team Challenge. From January 21 through March 22, inter-professional teams—including student pharmacists, doctors, nurses, and others—implemented outreach activities in their communities to raise awareness and improve understanding about medication adherence, using Script Your Future materials. This year’s winners were Pacific University (OR) and the University of Pittsburgh (PA). Since the Challenge began in 2011, more than 18,800 future health care professionals have directly counseled nearly 78,000 patients and reached more than 26 million consumers about the importance of medication adherence. To read the official press release announcing the winning teams, please click here.

Vaccine advocacy

NCL is a strong supporter of vaccines as extremely safe and effective and has been actively engaged this quarter in educating consumers about the importance of vaccines in protecting themselves, their families, and their communities. NCL issued a statement supporting measures taken by the New York state legislature in eliminating religious exemptions for vaccines. NCL emphasized that non-medical related vaccine exemptions put young children and immunocompromised individuals, who are unable to get vaccinated, at risk for contracting dangerous illnesses

Following the Spring Health Advisory Council Meeting, NCL’s Executive Director Sally Greenberg testified at the June 2019 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) meeting. Greenberg’s testimony amplified pro-vaccine voices and urged the Committee to maintain its recommendation for the pneumococcal vaccine, PCV13, for adults ages 65+. Greenberg emphasized the critical role that a positive recommendation of this vaccine would have for Medicare coverage, and in turn, its effect on access and implementation among vulnerable populations.

Counterfeit drugs and importation

NCL continues to have a strong focus on counterfeit drugs. On April 22 and April 26, NCL issued statements on drug importation legislation introduced in Florida and Oregon. NCL expressed concern that these bills would open the U.S. market to a flood of counterfeit and substandard drugs, putting patient health and safety at risk. Rather than considering misguided importation proposals, NCL encouraged Congress to strengthen our drug supply chain and pursue other strategies to ensure the affordability and accessibility of safe and effective prescription drugs.

Counterfeit drugs consumer education campaign

NCL’s Health, Fraud, and Communications teams are currently in the process of reviewing content for the Counterfeit Drugs Consumer Education Campaign. We anticipate launching the campaign in the fall of 2019. Please contact Nissa Shaffi at nissas@nclnet.org for information about how your organization can join this resource-rich platform to educate consumers on making smart decisions.

Surprise billing

On May 17, NCL’s Health Policy and Programs Associate, Nissa Shaffi, participated in a Capitol Hill briefing on surprise billing or out-of-network balanced billing, sponsored by America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). The briefing featured a panel of experts from the Brookings Institute, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, and the American Benefits Council.

NCL provided insight into the consumer perspective regarding surprise billing, urging a multi-stakeholder solution to the growing issue. We urge Congress to act and protect patients from outrageously expensive bills, that have caused consumers to make difficult choices between seeking medical treatment and food or housing.

Reproductive rights

In May, NCL released a statement objecting to bills in six states banning or curtailing the right to abortion thru various means. NCL strongly opposes the proposed measures, as they will undoubtedly endanger women’s lives by restricting their ability to make safe and informed decisions about their bodies. NCL advocates that women should have the right to choose their own reproductive choices in consultation with their healthcare providers.