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Our History

Nancy Davenport-Ennis, Founder of Patient Advocate Foundation

Nancy Davenport-Ennis

Founder of Patient Advocate Foundation

Nancy Davenport-Ennis, Founder of Patient Advocate Foundation became involved in legislative reform on behalf of cancer patients while a dear friend of hers, Cheryl Grimmel, was battling both breast cancer and her insurance company. As Cheryl valiantly fought her fight, Nancy volunteered with the Virginia Task Force for Insurance Reform – sharing the previously underrepresented patient’s perspective and fought to reform insurance coverage for cancer patients. Victory for the task force came with the passage of Virginia House Bill 240 sponsored by Delegate Mary T. Christian in 1994.

Cheryl lost her battle with breast cancer in December 1994, and on the night of her funeral, as the rest of the world was ringing in the New Year, Nancy and Jack Ennis wrote business plans for two complementary nonprofit organizations geared towards solving the issues faced by patients like their friend Cheryl. National Patient Advocate Foundation (NPAF) and Patient Advocate Foundation were born in concept that night and became a reality shortly thereafter.

Cheryl’s strength in the face of her battle serves as an inspiration to those at Patient Advocate Foundation as they work and interact with patients in need.

Our case managers advocate and mediate on behalf of patients to provide avenues of access for therapies, therapeutic agents and devices deemed medically efficacious by the medical and scientific communities while working to find sources of reimbursement to pay for care.

In the summer of 2013, after founding and serving as CEO for both PAF and NPAF for more than 17 years, Nancy Davenport-Ennis stepped away from the day-to-day management of both organizations, remaining as Chair Emerita. In July 2013, Alan  Balch Ph.D. was named Chief Executive Officer, and is responsible for the operation and leadership of both organizations.

PAF HeadquartersToday, both NPAF and PAF are national leaders on the forefront of important issues within patient-focused healthcare and serve as the voice of patients in need. At the helm are an Executive Board, Scientific Advisory Committee, and Honorary Board – all made possible by support from our Partners in Progress and generous community donors.

Celebrating our 20th year in 2016

In PAF’s first year of operation working from a small 10 ft. by 10 ft. office, Founder Nancy Davenport-Ennis and a part-time, volunteer staff of two provided case management assistance to 157 patients faced with barriers accessing their prescribed care. Fast-forward to 2017, and PAF helped a cumulative total of more than 1 million patients located throughout all 50 states with support provided by a staff of nearly 200 professionals. Consistent throughout its 20-year history, the mission of PAF is to help one patient at a time by providing highly skilled case management service or financial aid to resolve problems related to their ability to access care and overcome financial hurdles during the most vulnerable times of illness. NPAF was created as a sister organization to expand the scale of PAF’s impact to millions by advocating for solutions to common patient problems surrounding healthcare access and affordability. Over its long history, NPAF influenced major health policy decisions, helping to establish a ban on lifetime benefit limits and pre-existing condition exclusions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and has been heavily engaged in trying to pass the Medical Debt Relief Act. Today, CEO Alan Balch leads the effort to celebrate PAF and NPAF’s twenty years of service by documenting important milestones in our history while focusing on the key initiatives that will define the next twenty years of the organizations.