In 2010, we founded Greater Boston Urology as an integrated urology practice, meaning a practice that covers a large geographical area (in this case, Eastern Massachusetts) and has multiple physicians.
Our vision was simple: bring together many of the most sought after urology physicians and specialists in the nation to provide extraordinary urology care with the highest level of patient service.
It's now seven years later, and we remain firmly committed to this vision. In fact, we believe it's even more important to have proper integrated care for the urology patient at the community level. The academic centers in the area are wonderful, but they have multiple responsibilities in addition to patient care, such as research and publishing. Our job in the community is to take care of patients—period.
We do recognize, however, that in order to deliver excellent patient care at the community level, we need to work with politicians to ensure they understand our patients' needs as well as the needs of private practices like ours when developing health care policies.
As such, we work with Gateway Public Solutions to guide our government relations strategy. The goal is to reach out to elected officials in Massachusetts and develop a strategy that will enable us to play a greater role in developing health care policy by working with elected officials, state policy staff, and health care payers.
Marty Walsh is the president of Gateway Public Solutions. (No, we're not talking about the mayor of Boston; this is a different Marty.)
Marty recently sat down with us for a Q&A.
Q: Tell us about the work you do on GBU's behalf.
MW: Part of what I do as a lobbyist is help facilitate and foster relationships in the state—from the executive office to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to the Commissioner of Public Health all the way down to the legislature. So, in other words, I'll also work with state reps. There are different committees to consider as well, such as the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing.
Q: Some people have a skewed view regarding lobbyists. In fact, for some folks, the word "lobbyist" is a dirty word. Yet one of the main functions of a lobbyist is education—making sure legislators have the information they need to make the best decisions for their constituents. Can you comment on that?
MW: That's a great point. As a lobbyist, I'm trying to get to the decision maker and talk a language that they understand. Healthcare is such an incredible and vast subject matter, and nobody in government is an expert, even on the committees. So that's my job: to spend the time and help educate the members so they are familiar with the larger issues and, more specifically, what GBU does and what GBU brings to the table.
Q: So when you go in and you position GBU within that healthcare landscape, what are some of the specific issues you're helping the legislators understand?
MW: The big thing right now is the shift in population—that baby boomers are getting older. As a result, you have more and more men who are susceptible to prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among American men. Many people don't know that, and they don't understand why prostate cancer screening is so important. And just that education alone and letting them know again what GBU is doing, how GBU approaches prostate cancer treatment—these are some of the points I've been stressing. Letting legislators and letting the public know how important this is and that GBU is there to help as a public good.
Q: What's the focus going to be over the next six to twelve months?
MW: So much right now depends on what the federal government is going to do. What's going to happen with the Affordable Care Act? If they repeal/replace, what's at stake? Massachusetts gets over $1 billion in a Medicare waiver. If that's gone, if that gets removed, that's half a million people who will lose their insurance in Massachusetts. That will change the budget; that will change a lot that's going on.
At the state level, what we're trying to do right now is curb costs, and I think that's where GBU comes into play. GBU can offer many of the same services that hospitals offer, but for a much lower cost to the patient and insurance company.
There's a balance, of course, between the private hospitals, community health centers, and private practices like GBU. I don't necessarily think that it's one or the other because they serve different populations, and they also help each other.
Thanks so much for your time, Marty!