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ML Strategies Health Care Preview: Week of February 11, 2019

With Valentine’s Day approaching, love may be in the air - but not so much on Capitol Hill. Talks to reach a border security deal ahead of Friday’s deadline broke down over the weekend. At the precipice of another government shutdown, the President is off to El Paso today to argue that walls work, as thousands of troops descend on the border once again. Congressional negotiators had hoped to reach a deal today to provide time to members to review the deal under regular order. A short-term extension at the last moment seems the most likely way a shutdown is averted.

During the recent shutdown, we noted how difficult it is for either side to appear to be compromising. When you and your supporters believe you are completely right on an issue, it's challenging to make any compromises that might be conceding ground to the opposition. If we are once again looking at a possible shutdown, it is because the challenge to compromise remains true.

We’re nearly halfway through February and Congress has sent very limited signals on legislative direction. Both chambers are circling on drug pricing, and the House E&C Health Subcommittee will propose legislation to counteract actions taken by the Administration against the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The legislation would reportedly revoke the rule on short-term limited duration plans and the revised state innovation waiver guidance, as well as restore ACA outreach funding which is currently $10 million.


Democrats are introducing drug pricing legislation left and right. While some are bipartisan, many are yet to become bipartisan and may not this Congress. That said, two separate House committees are conducting investigations into rising drug costs and the Senate Finance Committee has scheduled a highly anticipated hearing that will feature seven pharmaceutical executives. This is on the heels of the reintroduction of the bipartisan CREATES Act, which would block tactics by manufacturers to delay generic drug development, among other measures.

What’s important to keep in mind is the possibility of bipartisan agreement on a drug pricing bill and what it might mean for a broader health care package this year.


E&C Health – “Strengthening Our Health Care System: Legislation to Reverse ACA Sabotage and Ensure Pre-Existing Conditions Protections.” Wednesday at 10:30 am.

Ways & Means – “The Cost of Rising Prescription Drugs.” Tuesday at 10 am.


HELP – “Managing Pain During the Opioid Crisis.” Tuesday at 10 am.


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About this Author

Rodney L. Whitlock, Mintz Levin, ML Startegies, Health Policy Advisor, Washington DC
ML Strategies - Vice President

Rodney is a veteran health care policy professional with more than 20 years of experience working with the US Congress, where he served as health policy advisor and as Acting Health Policy Director for Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and, earlier, on the staff of former US Representative Charlie Norwood of Georgia.

During his years with Representative Norwood, Rodney managed the Patients’ Bill of Rights, which passed the House in 1999 and 2001. In February 2005, Rodney left the office of Congressman Norwood to join the Finance...

Connie Garner ML Strategies Disability & Education Policy VP
ML Strategies - Vice President for Disability Policy & Education Policy

As Vice President for Disability Policy & Education Policy at ML Strategies, Connie leverages legislative, health care, government agency, and nonprofit and private sector consulting experience to help clients develop strategies on disability issues and education issues affecting their employees and businesses.

Connie is widely recognized as a national policy leader on disability, health care, and education issues. For 17 years, she was Policy Director for Disability and Special Populations to the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), where she worked primarily with the late Chairman Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and subsequently with former Senators Chris Dodd and Tom Harkin.

In her role as Policy Director for the Senate HELP Committee, she led the efforts to draft and enact important federal legislation, including:

  • The CLASS Act, the major long-term care legislation that is part of the Affordable Care Act

  • The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008

  • The 2006 and 2009 reauthorization of the $2 billion Ryan White CARE Act

  • The Family Opportunity Act of 2006

  • The 2005 reauthorization of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

  • The 1999 Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act

Connie’s experience also includes high-level positions with federal agencies. She served in the US Department of Education as State Project Director for Early Intervention and Preschool programs, Director of the Federal Interagency Coordinating Council for Children with Disabilities, and as the Secretary of Education’s principal liaison to interagency health care matters.

She has also held executive positions with national nonprofits. Connie was Executive Vice President for Policy at United Cerebral Palsy and continues to contract as the Executive Director for Allies for Independence/Advance CLASS, Inc., a national organization advocating for long-term care services. In addition, Connie has practiced as a clinical nurse specialist, including as the nursing administrator for maternal-child health inpatient hospital units in the Philadelphia and Washington, DC areas. She is also certified as a Pediatric and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner.

Immediately prior to joining ML Strategies, Connie was Policy Director in the DC office of a prominent law firm’s Government Strategies Practice Group, where she consulted with clients on health care, health insurance issues, mental health, substance use disorder, disability, long-term care, and education issues.


  • George Washington University (EdS)
  • George Mason University (MSc, Nursing)
  • George Mason University (BS, Nursing)
Frank Guinta ML Strategies VP
Senior Vice President of ML Strategies/US

Frank is based in our Washington, DC office and is Senior Vice President of ML Strategies.

Prior to joining the firm, Frank represented New Hampshire’s 1st congressional district in the US House of Representatives. He served for two nonconsecutive terms, from 2011 to 2013 and from 2015 to 2017. During his time in Congress, Frank served on several House committees. During his most recent term, he was a member of the Committee on Financial Services and served on its Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit as well as its Monetary Policy and Trade sub-committees. Previously he served...

Alexander Hecht, Vice President of Government Relations, Mintz Levin law Firm
Vice President of Government Relations

Alex is Deputy Director of the Mintz Levin Center for Health Law & Policy. He is an attorney with more than 10 years of senior-level experience in Congress and trade associations.

Alex assists clients with their legislative and regulatory needs on a wide range of issues. Prior to joining ML Strategies, Alex served for over six years as chief counsel for Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME) on the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. He was the lead policy counsel for Senator Snowe on health insurance market reform, individual and employer-based insurance,...

Katie Weider, Mintz Levin Law Firm, New York, Health Care Policy Director
Director of Health Policy

Katie provides advice and guidance on issues relating to Medicaid, Medicare, and the Marketplace.

Prior to joining ML Strategies, Katie was a senior analyst with the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC), a nonpartisan agency that provides Congress, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and states with analysis and recommendations on issues affecting Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). There Katie researched, developed, and prepared Medicaid policy recommendations;...