National Consumers League

Health Advisory Council Newsletter | Fall 2019 | New staff Q&A

Patricia Kelmar

Patricia Kelmar, JD

Director of Health Policy, NCL

We thought you might like to get to know NCL’s new Director of Health Policy, Patricia Kelmar, JD. Nissa Shaffi, NCL’s Health Policy and Program Associate, sat down to interview her.

Q. Can you tell members of the HAC a little about yourself? 

A. Prior to joining NCL, I was the Senior Policy Advisor for the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, a multi-stakeholder nonprofit committed to improving health care quality and safety, expanding access to care, and controlling costs for employers and consumers. I’ve also consulted with state-based nonprofit consumer advocacy groups, providing health policy analysis, strategic planning, media relations, project development and grant-writing. Prior to consulting, I was AARP New Jersey’s state advocate. I started my career with the Public Interest Research Groups, which taught me the power of organizing, and then I went to George Washington University Law school to learn how to craft policy.

Q. What drew you to NCL?

A. I have dedicated my career to nonprofit advocacy on behalf of consumers in the areas of health care, financial security, and consumer protection. NCL is the nation’s premier consumer advocacy organization and its mission resonated with my desire to amplify consumer voices and continue my work to improve health care and empower patients and consumers.

Q. What is your role at NCL?

A. As the director of health policy, I oversee, coordinate, and set priorities for NCL’s health policy program. I collaborate with our partners, who come from a broad range of healthcare stakeholders--patient advocacy groups, public health organizations, industry and health professional groups, academia, and government officials. I look for opportunities to add the consumer voice to improve access, affordability, and quality.

Q. You’ve been with NCL for two months now. How’s it going?

A. I’m pleased to be working with such a dedicated team of advocates within NCL. And our HAC members and other partners have been tremendously supportive during my onboarding. Just like my work in the states, there’s never a dull moment in healthcare policy in DC -- from counterfeit drugs, to vaccines, to price/quality transparency. But I’m optimistic about the role that NCL can play in these and other important issues. It’s clear there is a need for the consumer perspective to be heard, and I’m going to work hard through NCL’s strong reputation to bring that patient/consumer voice into the room when policy is decided.

Q. Tell us something fun about you.

I’ve just moved back to Washington, DC after 20 years. My husband and I are renovating an old house in Alexandria. After a long day of health care policy, I turn to looking at paint chips, carpet samples, and closet layouts. Health policy seems less stressful!