Lance Leggitt offers inside look at federal policy making

By Diane Smith 

Leg Web

The costs of medical care, prescription drugs and the toll of an opioid epidemic on the nation were among topics addressed during a recent discussion on how federal healthcare policy moves from ideas to guidelines. 

Lance Leggitt, former chief of staff to Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, recently left his work with President Donald Trump’s administration. Now, as a consultant based in Washington, D.C., he said he wants to offer the next generation of healthcare professionals a quick behind-the-scenes look at how healthcare policy is created in Washington, D.C. 

Leggitt’s experiences were at the center of the first-ever Healthcare Insider Showcase, which was held on campus Tuesday.  Students, faculty and staff were invited to the event. 

“For me, I think it helps people understand how important it is – this field of education – and how important it is to the daily lives of people in our country,” Leggitt said after the hour-long discussion. “I’m inspired by all the bright minds that are here studying, and if there is any way I can do things to help motivate them to do more, I feel like that is a great thing to do.” 

David Mansdoerfer, Special Assistant to UNTHSC President Michael Williams, introduced Leggitt to the audience and guided him through a series of questions that covered a variety of areas, including how Leggitt helped manage the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the early days of the Trump administration. 

Mansdoerfer, who worked with Leggitt while serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said this conversation was the start of efforts to bring speakers to campus to discuss important topics. 

“The goal is to have students have a better understanding of the world they are entering,” said Mansdoerfer, explaining that healthcare is a huge umbrella of topics that includes drugs and research. It also includes understanding how federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health operate. 

“Bringing someone in like Lance, who has overseen both of those agencies, can provide students and the folks who are interested on this campus, insight on how that works and hopefully, better empower them to go work in that space,” Mansdoerfer said. 

As the department’s chief of staff, Leggitt managed 80,000 employees and was charged with hiring about 200 people. The department’s budget was $1.2 trillion. 

Leggitt also touched on his experiences working for President George W. Bush administration and transitioning into his post after President Barack Obama’s terms. 

Leggitt said each day he addressed policy making from three perspectives – what issues were reactive and needed to be addressed immediately, what issues were presidential priorities and what issues needed to be addressed for the future. 

“We should be pro-active in generating policies,” he said. 

Leggitt said these conversations are important for students in health professions to experience. 

“I think it helps them understand how the world works,” Leggitt said. “One of the big things is the mystic of Washington, D.C., and so for me, I think it is something to help them understand what’s going on. There are a lot of people in Washington, D.C. who are working really hard to work on policies to do very good things.” 

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