Affiliates Tackle Health Reform Via APHA Campaign: Advocates Bring Public Health Concerns to Policy-Makers

By Johnson, Teddi Dineley | The Nation's Health, December 2009 | Go to article overview

Affiliates Tackle Health Reform Via APHA Campaign: Advocates Bring Public Health Concerns to Policy-Makers


Johnson, Teddi Dineley, The Nation's Health


As the national health reform debate heated up around the nation this summer, some of APHA's affiliated state and regional public health associations took up the cause of health reform on the homefront. As part of APHA's annual Public Health Action--or PHACT--campaign, Affiliates mounted advocacy efforts urging their members of Congress to include strong public health and prevention provisions in health reform legislation.

Using tools from APHA's campaign Web site at www.apha.org/advocacy, a number of Affiliates, including Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska and Nevada, sent letters encouraging key lawmakers to support passing comprehensive and affordable health reform legislation before year's end.

"Public health associations can have a visible impact when it comes to making sure that public health solutions are understood to be part of health reform," Jerry King, executive director of the Indiana Public Health Association, told The Nation's Health.

Armed with talking points and other tools from APHA's annual advocacy campaign and taking advantage of the congressional recess in August, members of affiliated state and regional public health associations visited their representatives, made phone calls and held advocacy training sessions, rallies and news conferences.

The Iowa Public Health Association, which has been actively engaged in APHA's campaign since its inception in 2005, participated in conference calls and face-to-face meetings in the home offices of congressional members or with members of their health policy staff, said IPHA coordinator Jeneane Moody, MPH.

"Over the course of several years, we are now a known quantity to them, so when we call or e-mail they know who we are and are familiar with our issues," said Moody, who is an APHA member.

In addition to meetings and phone calls, IPHA strengthened its members' advocacy skills by joining with Partnership for Better Health to hold regional advocacy skills training sessions in five congressional districts around the state.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

IPHA member Sally Clausen attended a training session and later saw firsthand how an advocacy visit can make a difference. During an August meeting with Sen. Tom Harkin, DIowa, it became clear that the Maternal and Child Health Services Title V Block Grant, which supports state efforts to improve health and welfare services for mothers and children, was not included in the Public Health Service Act. …

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