Once Mark Newsom recognized his knack for statistical analysis and technical programs, the only question was where he would go with it.
Of his 15-year health care career, he said, “I sort of backed into it.” Newsom, who joined CVS Caremark last month as an executive adviser in government affairs, said an internship with the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., led him to the health care industry.
“That was literally my first interaction with the health care world, and I absolutely loved it,” said Newsom, who studied psychology at the University at Buffalo.
At the cancer institute, he helped “collect and analyze data” and he “loved dealing with patients and providers, and just thought it was great how many smart people were doing technical things — whether it was the care process itself with doctors, nurses and pharmacists or people behind the scenes doing all the ... stuff to make health care happen in this country.”
After earning advanced degrees from the University of Illinois and Johns Hopkins University, Newsom worked in various health analyst roles in the private and public sectors before joining the Congressional Research Service in 2009.
“My career has been in the weeds,” he said. “I’m not a guy that’s done high-level legislative policy except for my tour of the Congressional Research Service. Most of my work has been more operational... [and] I’ve leveraged my experience from academia, from the private sector and from my previous experience at CRS to give my analytic view of different proposals from a technical perspective.”
Newsom says it’s the “interface between government and the private sector” that makes programs like Medicaid and Medicare happen, which should suit someone with his résumé well.
He seconded that, saying the perspective he gained from the public sector prepared him for the private sector.
“What I really gained from that experience is needing to see all sides of an issue, because [CRS] is a nonpartisan role ... and so you need to be able to present the issues from both perspectives and think about them from both perspectives, and I think that was a valuable tool that I’ve taken with me since to really explore issues from any and all perspectives.”
As he begins working with CVS’ public policy team, Newsom said he looks forward to facing challenges in the health care industry.
“The name of the game in health care, and making it work in the U.S., is promoting access equality and managing costs so it’s affordable to patients out there, and CVS is a leader in that,” Newsom said. “We have several different business units, the retail pharmacies, the pharmacy benefit manager, the minute-clinic and the specialty pharmacy, and all those interface with the rest of the health care system in various partnerships ... to improve the quality or care.”
“We’ve got a large country, lots of geographic disparity, and when you’re implementing health care programs, you need to make sure that everybody, everywhere is getting equal treatment and access, and that’s a challenge whether it’s the private sector doing it or the government doing it or collaborating to do it in a country this size,” he added.
CVS’ lobbying spending increased to more than $6 million through the first two quarters of 2013, a 26 percent increase year over year. The company spent a total of more than $10 million on lobbying in fiscal 2012.
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