Medspace: Hospitalists on Healthcare: ‘Politicians Can’t Fix This’
May 6, 2017
By Marcia Frellick
The AHCA bill, in its current form, won’t become law, said Jennifer Bell, founding partner of Chamber Hill Strategies in Washington, DC, and lobbyist on the Hill for the Society of Hospital Medicine.
“I’m a longtime Republican, I’m a Republican lobbyist, so what you’re hearing from me is stark reality,” she said. “This bill is going nowhere. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has already said he will not bring this bill to a vote.”
Her personal affiliation does not affect her lobbying for the society, she emphasized, which is nonpartisan.
Hospitalists are very concerned about the aspects of the bill that will likely reduce insurance coverage, particularly the ban on further Medicaid expansion, because fewer patients will seek the care they need, Bell told Medscape Medical News.
“The American Health Care Act is about repealing Medicaid expansion more than anything else,” she pointed out. But the bill goes beyond expansion to promote Medicaid reform, and many senators are not convinced this is the time to do that, she added.
Far more children are covered by Medicaid than by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), “so changes at the state level to Medicaid are quite serious,” she explained.
Bloomberg BNA: Spending on Health Lobbying Spikes Under Trump
April 24, 2017
By Alex Ruoff
Overhauling the ACA has dominated the health agenda on Capitol Hill since Donald Trump became president, Jennifer Higgins, a partner and health lobbyist at Chamber Hill Strategies, told Bloomberg BNA. Lawmakers have been so focused on repealing and replacing the health law that they have had little appetite for other health reforms.
“The AHCA in my opinion is this cloud that hangs over health-care policy as long as the president and Republicans want to keep it alive,” Higgins said, referring to the ACA overhaul bill House Republicans are debating.
Republicans in the House have spent much of this year trying to replace the ACA. Lawmakers tried and failed to bring their ACA bill, the American Health Care Act (H.R. 1628), to the House floor for a vote in March and have been debating new amendments to the legislation ever since, hoping the conference can come to agreement.
Reviving the AHCA over and over again with debates over new amendments may keep Congress from moving on to other health issues, such as authorizing new money for CHIP, the public health insurance program for children, and tackling rising drug prices, Higgins said.
Lobbyists Resetting Trump Expectations
April 12, 2017
By Megan R. Wilson
“We’ve pivoted from a reform agenda to a reauthorization agenda,” said Jenn Higgins, a partner at Chamber Hill Strategies, who specializes in healthcare policy. “We thought this was going to be the year that big things would get done.”
The focus is now reauthorizing big, established healthcare programs, such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, Higgins said.
“If there are opportunities for policy developments, you’re going to have to play on the edges of those issues,” she said, adding that the Department of Health and Human Services, run by former Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), is already having listening sessions with lobbyists and stakeholders.
“If AHCA is not the policy goal, our focus and our energy will be on regulatory and administrative policy development,” Higgins said, referring to the GOP’s healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act.
The Hill: Healthcare Groups Unload on GOP Bill
March 9, 2017
By Megan R. Wilson
But the lobbying right now is primarily focused on the House, said Jennifer Bell, the co-founder of Chamber Hill Strategies, who has worked for Republicans on both health and tax-writing committees.
“The next two weeks or three weeks is make or break. If it passes the House, how it passes can be very indicative of what a strategy might be in the Senate,” she said.
March 1, 2017
By Isaac Arnsdorf
RUBIO, COTTON TO HEADLINE FUNDRAISER FOR MANDEL: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) will headline a fundraiser on Monday for Ohio Secretary of State Josh Mandel, who’s seeking a rematch against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in one of next year’s most watched Senate races. A number of K Street types are among the hosts, including Kirk Blalock of Fierce Government Relations, Rob Chamberlin of Signal Group, Cesar Conda of Navigators Global, Jenn Higgins of Chamber Hill Strategies, Matt Keelen of the Keelen Group, Stephen Replogle of Cove Strategies and Geoff Verhoff of Akin Gump. Mandel could still face a primary against GOP Rep. Pat Tiberi, who’s built a substantial campaign war chest. Here’s the invitation.
The Wheaton Record: Inside D.C.: Alumni Perspectives
January 26, 2017
By Sarah Holcomb
When she arrived in D.C., Jennifer Bell ‘93 was a 29-year-old speech pathologist — an outsider. Her class schedule, like Noetzel’s, never included a political science course. Her major: French.
Moving to Washington with her husband, a fellow Wheaton grad, Bell found a part-time job at a local hospital and decided to intern at Congress at the same time. That decision launched her 15-year journey through the world of public policy, which would reinvent her career, eventually leading her to co-found her own healthcare-focused lobbying firm.
As she ushered us through her home into an airy room decorated with white linen, the house seemed to stand worlds away from the buzzing streets of downtown Washington. Yet Capitol Hill is a better reflection of Bell’s mission than the quiet, wooded hill where her house sits. Bell loves the way that Washington is “concentrated” with ambitious people — go-getters gathered from around the country and the world.
Washington D.C. is a company town, Bell said — only the “company” is the federal government.
Bell’s lack of experience and “preconceived ideas” about policy making allowed her to stand out in the world of Washington, which focused on ideology. Unlike many of her colleagues developing healthcare legislation, Bell possessed a rare perspective: that of a “real person that had a real job.”
“I understand the practical implications of some of the laws we were trying to change,” she told us. That knowledge helps her to address the various needs of her clients, who include organizations like hospitals, associations of doctors and companies or CEOs.
Today, as a professional who works on behalf of clientele largely outside of the political hub, it isn’t surprising that Bell supports “outsiders” who seek to renovate Washington. It’s one reason why she supported President Trump early in the primary season when most of her colleagues did not.
“I live here and work here, but I love disruption,” she said. “I think this is a town that’s too static in its patterns.” Bell noted that her perspective reflects that of her home state, Vermont, whose suspicious and self-reliant attitude caused it to refuse to join the 13 colonies until later when it became the 14th state. “I kind of like the idea that there will be this dynamite thrown in there,” she said of the new administration.
Nevertheless, it’s “good to have a mix” of experienced politicians and newcomers, Bell added. “There’s a lot of expertise in Washington that kind of stays here.”
Learning and practicing integrity is critical in D.C., Bell said. “You can build it over time and destroy it really fast.” She stressed the need for Christians in Washington to exercise honesty and consideration. “You can have strong opinions, but do your research and take someone else’s perspective,” she said. “Try to understand what they think and build relationships.”
The Wheaton Record: Obamacare Repeal and Replacement, Explained
January 24, 2017
By Kelsey Plankeel
Price transparency would mandate that healthcare providers — such as physicians and clinics — display prices for services. Presumably, if consumers know how expensive a procedure or service is, and have to pay for that service out of their own pocket, then they may choose a less expensive option. This would mirror the ACA’s requirement that certain restaurants post calorie counts next to menu items. Jennifer Bell, a healthcare lobbyist in the D.C. area, said she is unsure as to whether Americans will “ever get to the point where cheaper feels better overall.” She said that while cheaper options are adequate, if a loved one gets ill, family members often opt for a more expensive option, which is often perceived as higher quality.
This could take years, according to Bell. Additionally, insurance companies — who are at the frontline of implementing new healthcare rules — need at least 18 months to receive final rules, develop and approve bids and offer the plans to consumers. With no current replacement plan in motion, it could be at least two years before a new healthcare system is activated. The long-term process of healthcare implementation is exemplified by Obamacare, for which full implementation will not be completed until 2022.
According to Bell, one difference between Democrats and Republicans in healthcare policy making is that “Democrats tend to want to dictate very specifically what should happen; they don’t want to leave any room for chance. Republicans are more into flexibility and optionality as long as you meet certain standards.” She noted that this — the strict interpretation of law — was a factor in the Wheaton College v. Burwell case in 2015.
Roll Call: Republican Gender Gap Could Grow in the House
November 28, 2016
By Simone Pathé
House Republicans will be down one woman next year. And with administration picks forthcoming and a handful of female members weighing runs for other offices, the party’s gender gap could grow.
With their largest majority in more than 80 years, Republicans were mostly on defense in 2016.
It was a “hold year,” said Jennifer Higgins, the chairwoman of congressional outreach for RightNow Women PAC, which supports female Republican candidates…
Top Lobbyists 2016: Hired Guns
October 26, 2016
Jennifer Bell, Chamber Hill Strategies
Reaping the benefits of what is rapidly becoming one of the most successful healthcare-focused shops on K Street.
What Clinton’s Nomination Means for Women’s Groups
June 8, 2016
By Meridith McGraw
“I don’t think the differences have a lot to do with party,” said Jenn Higgins, a founder of RightNOW Women PAC. “Infrastructure gets at all the reasons Republican women don’t run for office. How do I raise money? Engage with the press? So RightNOW is playing a critical role in providing that infrastructure and building that network of women across the country.”