Mara McDermott
Vice President, McDermott+Consulting
Focus Area: Policy, Lobbying and Advocacy Strategies
Years at McDermott+Consulting: 1

What is your favorite part about your health policy work at McDermott+Consulting? 

My favorite part about working at McDermott+Consulting is the entrepreneurial spirit of the firm. Since arriving at the firm a year ago we have tested and implemented so many new ideas to better serve our clients at an incredibly fast pace. We have established a weekly Check Up article series to provide health policy updates from Washington, DC, started our Policy Breakfast Series for clients and built a new advocacy coalition to influence policy in Washington, DC, just to name a few. The firm is constantly encouraging and embracing innovation to improve client service.

What is the biggest opportunity and greatest challenge facing clients in your area of focus today? 

I help clients engage with Congress and the Administration on health care policy issues pertaining to provider payment. Right now, we see a lot of opportunity in the physician payment space, working with this Administration to define the next steps in the movement from volume to value. This includes opportunities around new delivery models, such as Direct Contracting and Primary Care First, recently announced Administrative initiatives.

The greatest challenge has been the pace of significant changes in the regulatory and policy space. The Administration and Congress have both been busy on a host of proposals that have the potential to significantly disrupt the health care industry. From surprise billing proposals on Capitol Hill to the Medicare Part D rebate rule, keeping up with those changes and engaging to influence their future has been a challenge we have eagerly embraced on behalf of our clients.

What kind of client work gets you most excited when it comes across your desk? 

I am passionate about health care delivery system reform. So many of us have had experiences with the health care system where you walk away feeling disappointed, confused or scared. There are providers, health plans and life sciences companies out there who are really making a difference for patients and driving the type of change that is needed to ensure a better patient experience for all of us. Examples range from lifesaving technological advances to the convenience being able to video chat with your pediatrician to ask if a rash is something serious, rather than hauling your kid in for an office visit. When clients come to me with their solutions for what ails the American health care system, I get excited to bring those ideas and innovations to the federal government so that we can try to build health care policy around them and make them more widely available.

What is the proudest moment of your career to date? 

I would say that the times when I have felt proudest in my career have been when I am able to build teams to address specific problems. Depending on the nature of the issue, these experiences have included leveraging our internal capabilities around data analytics, law, policy and lobbying capabilities to advance the interests of our clients. Over the course of my career I have also had really rewarding professional experiences when coordinating multiple prongs of a strategy, bringing together the Hill, the Administration, trade and professional associations, and stakeholders representing a wide array of different issues. When we can get all of the component parts rowing in the same direction to achieve a result – those moments are among the most rewarding of my career.

What is an interesting fact about yourself that others may not know?

I was a collegiate gymnast at UC Davis. I started taking gymnastics classes in Maryland at Hill’s Gymnastics at the age of two.  My friends and I used to joke that gymnastics is not lifelong sport like tennis or golf – you can’t exactly go out and hit the balance beam on the weekends as an adult.  But I would say the sport taught me very valuable life skills, including discipline, time management and teamwork.

Click here to learn more about Mara’s work.