BioOhio Government Relations Activities in Washington DC

March 14, 2019

BioOhio joined our national partners in Washington DC recently as part of our mission to work with elected representatives to promote Ohio’s bioscience industry, BioOhio members, and the health and prosperity of Ohio.

This was a busy, exciting, and productive week for our industry that began with our participation in AdvaMed’s annual Washington DC legislative Fly-In, advocating for the medical device and diagnostic segment of our industry. One of BioOhio’s national partners, the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) and their State Medical Technology Association (SMTA), helps coordinate legislative meetings with state legislators each year. There were approximately 20 states with representation during the DC Fly-in from February 26-28. Our thanks to AdvaMed President & CEO Scott Whitacre, and Senior Vice President & Chief of Staff, Brian O’Connor, for a very productive time on Capitol Hill.

BioOhio's John Lewis with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown
BioOhio's John Lewis with Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown
BioOhio's John Lewis with Senator Rob Portman
BioOhio's John Lewis with Senator Rob Portman

The Fly-In coincided with the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) board meeting, followed by legislative visits. Mike Carrel, MDMA Board member and CEO of Cincinnati based AtriCure, was seen prominently. It was great to run into Mike and the entire MDMA team, another of BioOhio’s national partners, in the “Halls of Congress” – go Ohio!

February 28 is National Rare Disease Day, which brought many visitors to Capitol Hill for conversations with Ohio members of Congress. We recently partnered with member organization BioMotiv in authoring an article on this important day, “Recognizing the Ohio Bioscience Industry on Rare Disease Day.”

We also ran into Don Esch, President of BioOhio member company Exsurco Medical and parent company Bettcher Industries. He was visiting DC with Northeast Ohio based MAGNET, advocating for continual funding of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program. Ohio was everywhere!

The Ohio Birthday Party is held each year in DC at the Library of Congress to celebrate Ohio’s founding on March 1, 1803. This annual event, hosted by The Ohio Society of Washington DC, normally draws 500+ people. If you’re in DC this time of year, be sure to attend this amazing, history-rich event.

Capitol Building at Night
Capitol Building at Night
Greg Kapcar from G2G, Congressman Steve Stivers, and John Lewis from BioOhio
Greg Kapcar from G2G, Congressman Steve Stivers, and John Lewis from BioOhio

Four Key Policy Issues

While in DC, with our advocacy partners at member firm G2G consulting, we discussed four key medical device related issues, outlined below. We met with all eighteen members of Congress, sixteen from the US House of Representatives, and both Ohio senators. This included in-person meetings with Senators Brown and Portman, Congressman Steve Stivers, and key staff members who focus on healthcare in each representative’s office.

  • Permanent Repeal of the Medical Device Tax

The current 2.3% excise tax on medical devices, part of the affordable care act, is due to expire December 31, 2019, and we are pushing again for a full repeal of the tax. Nearly 300 members of Congress supported the previous repeal effort, an example of true bipartisan support of an important issue.

  • Ensuring Patient Access to Critical Breakthrough Products Act of 2019

This non-partisan act ensures when a device/diagnostic company receives FDA Breakthrough designation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) would issue a transitional reimbursement code immediately instead of the current process of waiting up to 3 years for patients to have access to what is an FDA approved, groundbreaking, and lifesaving technology.

  • Value Based Health Care

We support the US Healthcare system transitioning from a fee-for-service/fee-for-product (volume-based) payment framework to a value-based paradigm, ultimately achieving better clinical outcomes, lower overall costs, and improvement with the patient experience.

  • Opioid Alternatives for Pain Management

BioOhio is currently cataloguing Ohio companies which have non-opioid or opioid alternative treatments for pain management, both devices and drugs. This fast-growing field of bioscience includes Ohio companies such as AtriCure and Sollis Therapeutics. AtriCure, whose focus is treatments for atrial fibrillation, has developed a tool that blocks pain by temporarily ablating peripheral nerves. Sollis Therapeutics is a clinical-stage pharmaceutical company developing novel non-steroid, non-opioid analgesics We highlighted both in our meetings with legislators and their staff, all of whom were excited and impressed with the innovation happening in our state! If your research relates to opioid alternatives, please get in touch with us.

BioOhio will return to Washington DC in early April for the annual Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) Fly-In. Our discussions will focus on drug pricing, Medicare Part B&D, NIH funding, IP issues amongst other important topics.

If you have an issue that is important to you and your business, please get in touch with the BioOhio team and let us know. Thank you for your support!