Articles

22Mar

New U.S. Health Care Law Contains Huge Victory for Marketing Research

(Glastonbury, CT) The new U.S. healthcare law signed by President Obama today includes the Physician Payments Sunshine Act – and an important win for the survey and opinion research profession. Thanks to lobbying by the Marketing Research Association (MRA) and targeted outreach by MRA grassroots volunteers, the Sunshine Act excludes incentive payments for doctors who participate in marketing research projects.

MRA’s Director of Government Affairs, Howard Fienberg, PLC, explained, “The Sunshine Act was designed to curb manufacturers’ efforts to influence the prescribing behavior of physicians. We’re grateful that the Congress recognized that the only influence sought through research incentives is to encourage and thank a difficult to reach but highly important community to participate in research.

Section 6002 of the new law (originally known as the Physician Payments Sunshine Act) requires public reporting by pharmaceutical, biologic, medical device and medical supply manufacturers of any “payment or other transfer of value” to a doctor over $10, or $100 aggregate annually. This would have included incentives for participation in research, even if offered as a directed charitable contribution. Requiring such public reporting could have devastated most research with doctors.

Lobbying and grassroots campaigning by MRA resulted in the Act defining “payment or other transfer of value” to exclude “a transfer of anything of value that is made indirectly to a covered recipient through a third party in connection with an activity or service in the case where the applicable manufacturer is unaware of the identity of the covered recipient.” This means that, as long as marketing research is conducted by an independent survey and opinion research company and the manufacturer sponsoring the research does not know who participates in the study, incentives can still be offered as a thank you to physicians who participate in research.

“Requiring public reporting of incentives could have devastated the research profession in this country and harmed the most basic principle of the research process: confidentiality,” said Fienberg.

Grassroots involvement by MRA volunteers was particularly helpful in protecting the research profession. Aaron Nichols (Nichols Research), Rick Seale (Shugoll Research), Marisa Pope (Jackson Associates), Stephenie Gordon (Schlesinger Associates), Lisabeth Clawson-Couturier (Las Vegas Field & Focus), Scott Baker (Adept), Allen Hellman and Debby Schlesinger-Hellman (Schlesinger Associates), and Sharon Chamberlain and Tyler Walker (Chamberlain Research) all met with their legislators or legislators’ staff to persuade them of the need to exclude research from the Sunshine Act. Hearing from constituents means a lot to most legislators -- and meeting with them can make a big impression, as it did in this campaign.

Stephenie Gordon with Rep. John Lewis and MarisaPope Scott Baker (Adept), Allen Hellman and Debby Schlesinger-Hellman (Schlesinger) meet with staff for Rep. Henry Waxman Lisabeth Clawson-Couturier (Las Vegas Field & Focus) meets with staff for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid

In addition to MRA’s lobbying and grassroots campaign, the Pharmaceutical Marketing Research Group (PMRG) had contracted a lobbying firm to work on this issue.

It is unclear how the Sunshine Act will ultimately affect existing state laws. While it is supposed to preempt similar or less-restrictive payment reporting laws, it is unclear how more restrictive state laws, or those that explicitly require reporting of marketing research payments, will be impacted. Further state legislation and litigation is likely.

MRA has been lobbying to protect research incentives in such legislation and regulation in states across the country for several years (with another notable success in Massachusetts last year), just as they have at the federal level, and will continue to do so.

About the Author

Howard Fienberg

Howard Fienberg

Based in Washington, DC, Howard is the Insights Association's lobbyist for the marketing research and data analytics industry, focusing primarily on consumer privacy and data security, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), tort reform, and the funding and integrity of the decennial Census and the American Community Survey (ACS). Howard has more than two decades of public policy experience. Before the Insights Association, he worked in Congress as senior legislative staffer for then-Representatives Christopher Cox (CA-48) and Cliff Stearns (FL-06). He also served more than four years with a science policy think tank, working to improve the understanding of scientific and social research and methodology among journalists and policymakers. Howard is also co-director of The Census Project, a 900+ member coalition in support of a fair and accurate Census and ACS. He has also served previously on the Board of Directors for the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics and and the Association of Government Relations Professionals. Howard has an MA International Relations from the University of Essex in England and a BA Honors Political Studies from Trent University in Canada, and has obtained the Certified Association Executive (CAE), Professional Lobbying Certificate (PLC) and the Public Policy Certificate (PPC). When not running advocacy for the Insights Association, Howard enjoys hockey, NFL football, sci-fi and horror movies, playing with his dog, and spending time with family and friends.

Attachments

Related

Fighting for You: November 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Fighting for You: November 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

With American Thanksgiving now in the rearview mirror, let’s look back at the biggest challenges th...

Read More >
IA Urges U.S. Labor Department to Treat Research Subjects as Independent Contractors

IA Urges U.S. Labor Department to Treat Research Subjects as Independent Contractors

New federal labor rules could mistakenly classify "participants in surveys, focus groups, and o...

Read More >
Fighting for You: October 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Fighting for You: October 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Consumer data privacy and security concerns, including progress towards a new trans-Atlantic data de...

Read More >
New Independent Contractor Status Rules Proposed by Biden Labor Department

New Independent Contractor Status Rules Proposed by Biden Labor Department

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), having yanked a Trump Administration regulation of independent c...

Read More >
Fighting for You: June 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

Fighting for You: June 2022 Legislative and Regulatory Update

To our pleasant surprise, Congress has actually been cutting compromises on federal privacy legislat...

Read More >
Biden Labor Department Plans Another Revamp of Independent Contractor Status Rules

Biden Labor Department Plans Another Revamp of Independent Contractor Status Rules

The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting forums this month with employers and employees prior to init...

Read More >
Members only Article - Please login to view