On December 4-5, 2016, the Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC), an umbrella organization comprised of over 50 professional societies, including the ACG, patient advocacy organizations, and industry members, met in Washington D.C. for the annual winter Board meeting and Fall Forum. At the Board meeting, ACG member Ralph McKibbon, MD, FACG was elected DDNC President for 2016-2018. ACG Governor for Louisiana and Louisiana Gastroenterology Society Representative to the DDNC, James Hobley, MD, FACG, was elected DDNC Vice-President for 2016-2018. The Chair of the ACG Board of Governors and ACG Representative to the DDNC, Costas H. Kefalas, MD, MMM, FACG, completed his term as DDNC President and is now the DDNC Immediate Past President. Also participating in the Board meeting was ACG Trustee and ACG Representative to the DDNC, Samir Shah, MD, FACG. Dr. Shah is the current Co-Chair of the DDNC Public Policy Committee, and has been instrumental in drafting the 2017 DDNC Legislative Policy Agenda, which includes ACG legislative priorities.
This year’s Fall Forum included presentations from: Heidi Marchand, Pharm.D., the Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Health and Constituent Affairs at the Food and Drug Administration, who presented, “Development of Treatments for Patients with Digestive Diseases;” Kelsei Wharton, the Associate Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who presented, “Health Insurance Coverage, The Current Open Enrollment Period and Patient Access Issues Going into the New Year;” and Madeleine Pannell, Health Legislative Aide, Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, who presented “Health Legislation Forecast for the 115th Congress.”
Founded in 1978, the DDNC is an advocacy organization whose mission is “to work cooperatively to improve access to and the quality of digestive disease health care in order to promote the best possible medical outcome and quality of life for current and future patients with digestive diseases.” Since the early years of the DDNC, ACG has played an important role in supporting the DDNC mission. There is strength in diversity and numbers: when DDNC representatives advocate on Capitol Hill each March, usually in teams consisting of physicians, nurses, representatives from the industry, and most importantly, patients with GI diseases, a highly impactful message is conveyed to legislators and health-related federal agencies.