Donna Wilkinson serves as Senior Counsel at Ameriflex (parent company of Accresa). With courtroom experience in both state and federal court, her specialty is offering strategies that not only benefit organizations and industries now, but help secure a future of growth. It's that expertise that has proved invaluable in the Accresa team’s efforts to make direct primary care programs more accessible through ongoing legislative efforts.
In the first part of our three-part series, she offers her expert perspective on a recent lobbying visit the Accresa team took to Capitol Hill. Stay tuned for the employer and physician perspectives as we continue to explore direct primary care’s legal future and how ongoing advocacy will help make better healthcare accessible and affordable for more Americans.
Accresa just returned from a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. What was the focus and goal of the trip?
In the last decade, health savings accounts have become a popular tax-exempt investment option for employer-sponsored benefit plan participants -- but as attractive as they may be, there are still strict rules and regulations around exactly what health-related expenses are considered eligible for reimbursement. Direct primary care (DPC), the innovative membership-based care model that Accresa enables, is still on the waiting list to be considered an eligible expense, despite the cost-savings it has shown to provide employers along with the wellness outcomes it affords their employees.
To better gauge the temperature on both sides of the political aisle and see what exactly is stalling the decision to grant DPC its eligibility, we scheduled a one-day fly-in to meet with members of the House, the Senate, and their staff. Our goal was to get in front of key leadership in D.C. to advocate for the expansion of DPC, and, specifically, to ask that DPC membership fees become a qualified medical expense under HSA requirements.
What information or perspective did you find that members of Congress may be missing when it comes to making an informed decision about DPC legislation?
Direct primary care isn’t necessarily a complicated concept, but we do find there is a gap between what lawmakers have come to understand about DPC and how it is actually working today. There are a lot of stereotypes floating around about DPC − what it is, what it isn’t, who it’s for, how it works, etc. During these Hill meetings, we knew we needed to show them how implementing a DPC program could help both employers and employees save money, and share the “real life” stories, case studies, and data our years of experience in the industry have provided us. Those are the concrete illustrations that prove our case. By sitting down face-to-face and presenting a clear, concise and data-driven argument, we would have the opportunity to help influence those members with the authority to help push the DPC efforts through the appropriate channels.
What does the future look like for DPC, and how does Accresa plan to help contribute to DPC-related legislative efforts?
It is incredibly empowering to see the effects of a lobbying trip even after just one day. We found that members on both sides of the aisle want consistent, reliable information from the DPC community — and not just from physicians participating in these types of programs, but also from employers, benefit consultants, and American consumers who are playing a role in the expansion of DPC and similar models. We view it as part of our role to continue to provide this information as we gather more relevant case studies and cost-saving data points. In the meantime, we will keep our ear to the ground as new legislation gets drafted and pushed through, sharing pertinent information here on the blog and through our social channels. We are proud to see our advocacy efforts evoke real change in Washington and are optimistic for the future of DPC legislation.
Check out the other blog posts in this series:
- Part 2 | Advocating for DPC + HSA Legislation: How A-1 Locksmith Took Control of Rising Healthcare Costs with Michael Schneider, CEO, Joe East Enterprises / A-1 Locksmith
- Part 3 | Advocating for DPC + HSA Legislation: How Diamond Physicians is Improving Patient Outcomes and Decreasing Physician Burnout with DPC with Dr. James Pinckney II, CEO and Founder, Diamond Physicians