No matter who you are or what your profession, policy influences what you do. Advocating for policy which could affect your practice change effort is often important to influencing how care is delivered or paid for. Some of The John A. Hartford Foundation Change AGEnts focus their efforts on significant policy change efforts, seeking to shape regulations or legislation at the federal, state or even local level. Others may take a more modest approach, participating in existing advocacy efforts.
Its also important to think about how you can influence policy by leveraging the resources of your organization. Your university or health system may have a policy or advocacy office that can benefit from your wisdom gained from experience in the trenches. As clinicians, researchers and educators, you can likely offer expertise at any stage in this process. It may be a simple discussion to help other and elected official or administrator understand the problem, or perhaps a more detailed evaluation of an intervention or policy change, highlighting possible benefits and consequences.
Two Health and Aging Policy Fellows (Joan Davitt and Toni Miles) shared their experiences in system-based advocacy at the December 2014 Change AGEnts Conference. You can view their presentation on Developing Your Policy Advocacy for more details. For a helpful overview on how to connect with consumer groups to amplify your advocacy, watch our recent webinar Joining Forces: Working with Consumer Advocates to Promote Integrated Care. Or, if you want learn more about current policy issues and opportunities to advocate for health funding, view Hot, Hot, Hot, our webinar on healthcare funding and current legislative issues.
No matter what your interest, there is a way that you can be an advocate. For a reminder on the policy process at various levels of government, review our Understanding Policy Process page. Here is a short list of activites that you can take to get involved as an advocate on your own.
Contact your Legislator
- Find the name and contact information for your state legislators at openstates.org.
- For contact information for government agencies and your state legislators, follow this link to usa.gov.
Follow a Bill as it Moves Through Congress
You can look up a bill by issue, bill number, or legislator. This is a good way to find out what pending legislation could affect issues you care about and want to advocate for or against.
Join others in Advocating for a Health Care Policy Position:
While the examples below focus on specific health issues, they include adaptable advocacy lessons, tools and guidance that you can apply to your particular health policy concern.
- If you are interested in influencing mental health policy In New Hampshire, see the National Alliance on Mental Illness document, “You Can Influence Public Policy”
- If you want to influence healthcare policy that affects nursing, review the Nursing World document, “Influencing Healthcare in the Legislative Arena”
- The ElderCare Workforce Alliance provides helpful information on how to develop an advocacy campaign. These tools also highlight examples of advocates for older adults who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
- The Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program is a unique opportunity for professionals in health and aging to receive the experience and skills necessary to make a positive contribution to the development and implementation of health policies that affect older Americans. The website includes a helpful list of specific challenges in health care for the aging, all of which can use support and advocacy.