Celebrating 25 Years of Nonpartisan Health Policy Conversations

From left to right: Honorees Uwe Reinhardt, Edward G. Grossman, Gail Wilensky, Arielle Woronoff, James “J.P.” Paluskiewicz, Alliance President & CEO Sarah Dash, Alliance Board Chairman Robert Graham (Photo by Joy Asico for the Alliance for Health Policy)

On Oct. 3, 2017, the Alliance for Health Policy celebrated the culmination of our 25th anniversary at a dinner at Eastern Market in Washington, D.C. with over two hundred of our supporters and friends. We acknowledge and thank our Visionary sponsors Aetna, Anthem, Ascension, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Health is Primary – and our Champion sponsors, the American Medical Association, Amgen and GSK who helped make the night possible.

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Anniversaries are not only a good time to celebrate past accomplishments, they’re also a good time to start new traditions. The Alliance for Health Policy sought to do both by giving out our first annual awards to a bipartisan group of health care leaders.

Our 2017 honorees exemplify the values of bipartisan collaboration and dedication to improving the nation’s health system that underlie the work that we do every day at the Alliance. We’re proud to be able to spotlight their work, and we hope you will join us in recognizing them:

Bipartisan Health Policy Leadership Awards

  • Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University
  • Gail Wilensky, Project HOPE

Bipartisan Congressional Staff Awards

  • James “J.P.” Paluskiewicz, House Committee on Energy and Finance
  • Arielle Woronoff, Senate Committee on Finance

Unsung Hero Award

  • Edward G. Grossman, J.D.

Remarks of Sarah Dash, Alliance for Health Policy President and CEO, at the October 3 Alliance 25th Anniversary Celebration.

For 25 years, the Alliance for Health Policy has been dedicated to informing policy solutions by bringing facts and diverse viewpoints to the table.

We have reached generations of congressional staff, created a forum to discuss the toughest issues, and informed the dialogue on every major health policy debate over the last 25 years.

(Photo by Joy Asico for the Alliance for Health Policy)

One of my favorite emails to receive is when an outgoing congressional health LA introduces her replacement and gives one last assignment: Get to know the Alliance and go to their briefings.

We simply would not have made it these last 25 years without your trust, faith and support. To the incredible sponsors who made tonight’s celebration possible – thank you.

I would like to recognize the outstanding contributions of our Board of Directors, especially our Chair, Dr. Bob Graham, for his amazing dedication to this organization.

I’d also like to recognize our honorary co-chairs, Senators Blunt and Cardin – and all of the past honorary co-chairs of the Alliance – our founders Senators Rockefeller and Danforth and Senators Kassebaum, Frist, and Collins. We have been so fortunate to have their bipartisan support and leadership.

Finally, I want to specifically mention Ed Howard, whom so many of you know. He could not be here this evening but we would not be here without him.

Now, you might be wondering “how is it possible to be nonpartisan in today’s health policy environment?”

Well, look around the room. This is how.

And to tell you why this is so important, we need to go back in history – to about six weeks ago.

This summer, 215 million Americans gathered to share the awesome experience of a total solar eclipse. Which is not at all what you expected me to say!

Now it is remarkable that we could predict exactly when and where to see the eclipse – and that for most of us it was a fun, not a fearful, experience.

But people did not always see it that way.

Many ancient cultures explained an eclipse as a demon swallowing the sun – as a dragon in China, a frog in the American Southwest, even a vampire in Siberia.

Of course, the science of astronomy advanced, and our understanding of celestial bodies has evolved from a matter of folklore to a matter of fact.

Health care as we know it has also evolved into the science we count on today to fight illness and cure disease. From biomedical discoveries to improvements in care delivery and coverage, the past 25 years have been marked by progress.
We make great strides when we seek the truth and focus on what works.

However, some problems remain incredibly difficult to solve, and new challenges are constantly emerging. Millions remain uninsured, chronic disease continues to threaten our well-being, and costs remain a critical concern at every level.

And while health policy has never been easy or without contention, we have found ourselves tackling these challenges as a nation without clear consensus on the path forward.

That is where the Alliance seeks to make a difference – by clarifying the problems we are trying to solve and shedding light on the tradeoffs and likely consequences of potential solutions.

The Alliance delivers facts, evidence, and real-world experience to everything we do.

And we do so with sensitivity to the many different values, political views, and opinions in our country – differences that must yet be transcended if we are going to create a better health care system.

The awards we offer tonight will honor the bipartisan contributions of some very special individuals who have been working towards that better future.

Friends – people are counting on us to get this right.

Most people don’t wake up thinking about risk adjustment or value-based payment. But they want a health care system that works for them.

In just over 25 years, we will witness the next coast-to-coast solar eclipse. I don’t know what our health care system will look like then, but I have faith that we can make it better – if we choose reality over rhetoric; outcomes over optics; improvement over impasse.

Every one of us in this room holds a piece to this difficult and complicated health policy puzzle. And the Alliance is committed to being there for you every step of the way.

Thank you for joining us, and here’s to the next 25!