Morgan Downey, STOP Alliance Policy Advisor, weighs in on where Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is today as it moves closer to the key date, October 1, 2013. What do you need to know? Individual mandate? State exchanges? Essential health benefits?
A recent JAMA article (2014;174:615) that critiqued the FDA’s decision to approve Belviq and Qsymia for weight loss included the following statement: “Although treatment options are limited, obesity is not an emergency – it is not even a disease, but rather a risk factor for disease.” This statement has sparked a vigorous debate.
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View Dr. Richard H. Carmona’s, 17th U.S. Surgeon General and the Alliance’s Health and Wellness Chairperson, letter of support for the Essential Health Benefits Task Force recommendations here.
Christine C. Ferguson, J.D. is the Director of the Rhode Island Health Benefits Exchange and a Professor in the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University. She also serves as the Strategic Initiatives Advisor for the STOP Obesity Alliance. Ms. Ferguson's areas of focus include obesity, national health reform, Medicaid, health care financing, health care and management, child health and development, public health preparedness and state health policy.
Ms. Ferguson's prior professional experiences have made her adept at evaluating, prioritizing and working to address significant public health and health care financing issues. As Commissioner of Public health in Massachusetts, Ms. Ferguson oversaw the Department of Public Health and the Department of Health Care Finance and Policy. She led initiatives addressing public health emergencies, established a unique collaboration with the Executive Office of Public Safety and implemented the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety and Medical Errors Reduction. She was also a key member of a two-year effort to establish a new department for Early Education and Child Care.
From 1995 to 2001, Ms. Ferguson ran the Rhode Island Department of Human Services under Governor Lincoln Almond's two-term administration. She oversaw nearly one-third of the State's annual budget, providing Medicaid and services for low-income families, children, senior citizens, veterans and the disabled. Rhode Island's innovative achievements in health care, Medicaid managed care, early education and child care and welfare reforms were widely recognized during her tenure. Of particular note, Rhode Island had the nation's highest percentage of children with health care coverage. Prior to her service in Rhode Island, Ms. Ferguson also served as counsel and deputy chief of staff to the late U.S. Senator John H. Chafee and was instrumental in developing a bipartisan health reform proposal in the 1990s.
Ms. Ferguson is currently a member of the Board on Children, Youth and Families for the Institute of Medicine National Academies and a Director on the Board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of RI. She has served on the boards of the National Academy of State Health Policies and a variety of other national organizations.
Ms. Ferguson has been recognized as being one of the Most Influential Health Policymakers by Faulkner & Gray Healthcare, one of the nation's 100 most influential lawyers by the National Law Journal and one of the top 25 Most Influential Working Mothers by Working Mothers Magazine.
Ms. Ferguson holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Washington College of Law, American University.