Legislative Watch

Industry

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UVSA partners with the Animal Policy Group to bring legislative insight and support for the association’s members.

The United Veterinary Services Association (UVSA) recently announced that it has engaged the Animal Policy Group to bring additional legislative insight and support for the association’s members. The Animal Policy Group works with organizations to analyze and develop comprehensive policy strategies and the messages to communicate these viewpoints.

“The choice of Animal Policy Group to represent UVSA was an easy one because of our past relationship with Mark Cushing and his team on issues that impacted AVDA members,” said Jackie King, UVSA’s executive director. “We know they understand our members and their concerns and will help UVSA as we expand our efforts to be the voice for the industry on compliance and regulatory issues impacting the entire channel.”


Engagement at the State Level

As the animal health care industry has grown, so too has related legislative action, particularly at the state level of government. “The Animal Policy Group’s focus has primarily been on the state level because that’s where most of the action has been,” said King.

Mark Cushing, the Animal Policy Group’s CEO and founder, says that states, both at the legislative level and in particular board of pharmacy levels, have stepped up aggressively in crafting regulations and policies. “We’ve seen a tremendous growth in proposed legislation, and proposed administrative regulation of every facet of the supply chain for manufacturers and distributors, to the veterinarians on a medication side,” he said. The Animal Policy Group monitors pharmaceutical or pharmaceutical-related activity that could impact veterinarians, including human medicine legislation that could affect the animal health market.

All told, the Animal Policy Group tracks more than 4,000 pieces of legislation in a year. That gets winnowed down to 350 pieces that look interesting and/or troubling to the animal health industry.

Knowing what’s coming down the legislative pipeline is one thing. But effectively navigating 50 state legislatures is quite another.

“The thing you have to keep in mind is that of the 50 state legislatures, about 80% of those legislatures are part-time, where they meet maybe 3-5 months,” Cushing said. “They are somewhat in a hurry to get back home to their families or jobs. They don’t have big staffs. In some cases, they have one person answering the phone. It’s a very different environment than Congress and the FDA, which is online 24/7.

“In most states, you really have to hustle to figure out a bill’s meaning and intent, whether it will pass and even whether it covers veterinary care,” Cushing continued. “Sometimes we’ve seen bills pass where it’s not even known at the time of passage what the impact will be. It’s a very active, hands-on process.”

With the Animal Policy Group’s guidance, UVSA will participate in state and federal legislative activities and provide position statements and letters in support/opposition of strategic bills.

“AVDA has been the lifeblood and pipeline for critical animal health products and services, reaching every corner of the United States,” said Cushing. “UVSA will take this record and reputation to the next level and the Animal Policy Group is excited to be part of the UVSA team. We pride ourselves on providing cutting edge services and know-how in the animal policy space, which expands daily with opportunities and challenges for the industry. Jackie’s leadership makes all the difference and we look forward to working together.”

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com/utah778

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