This morning's NHPC panel of congressional staffers explored the gamut of challenges facing policymakers in 2012. A bipartisan panel of representatives from the Appropriations, Ways and Means, Commerce, and Labor-HHS Committees shared their insights on the priorities for the year, each reiterting that as public servants their ultimate goal is to improve the health and lives of Americans.

"I think Republicans and Democrats have a shared goal of improving health and reducing cost...better quality and better outcomes is what we're after," one panelist remarked.
Despite the political fights we see played out in the media, the panelists all agreed that containing costs is a shared goal, and they need to find strategies and policies that work to meet that goal. However, there are tough questions that are being discussed both in Washington and among the American public -- questions about issues that we haven't had before. Because the issues are so complex, the panelists agreed that researchers and policy professionals need to become part of the debate.  They asked researchers to keep producing and sharing their work because congressional staffers do use it in considering policies. Specifically, the panelists requested evidence on public health prevention strategies that reduce costs:
"I'd love to see analysis of grants from the Public Health and Prevention Fund to see if they actually made a difference to change behaviors, improve health quality, or reduce costs...Bring us the data that shows what's actually effective in changing behaviors that drive costs," one panelist requested.
Overall, the panelists agreed that those in Washington don't know how to answer all the questions and that research and policy professionals need to continue to inform the debate.