Serving Up a Healthy Dose of Advocacy

Posted in Across the Nation, Advocacy, Healthcare Reform by ACCCBuzz on March 16, 2012

by Don Jewler, Director of Communications, ACCC

“If you’re not at the table, you’re likely to be on the menu.”

That cute truism popped up a couple of times in reference to healthcare reform during the recent ACCC 38th Annual National Meeting.

George Kovach, MD, ACCC’s new President, noted that as healthcare reform takes center stage this year, the Association of Community Cancer Centers must continue to define quality cancer care, be a strong national advocate, and represent the needs and goals of the multidisciplinary cancer care team. One of his goals this year is to assure that ACCC is at the table in national discussions about the standard of care for cancer patients.

Deborah E. Trautman, PhD, RN, executive director, Johns Hopkins Medicine Center for Health Policy and Healthcare Transformation, urged attendees at ACCC’s recent meeting to become informed and help influence policy decisions.

“The healthcare reform train has left the station, and we are going to be at this for quite some time,” said Trautman, who was instrumental in developing the Affordable Care Act and was present when President Obama signed it into law. March 23 marks the second anniversary of the Act.

“We are a very divided nation about reform,” and some of this is due to lack of information, Trautman said. She pointed out that a poll shows 22 percent of Americans think the Affordable Care Act has been repealed, and another 26 percent are not sure of its legal status. Other surveys show that most Americans get their information about healthcare reform not from unbiased studies or statistics, but from Fox News.

In addition, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/Gallup survey asking opinion leaders “What will influence health reform in the U.S. in the next five to 10 years?” found that 75 percent thought government would have the most influence, followed by insurance executives (56 percent), pharmaceutical executives (46 percent), and healthcare executives (46 percent). Only 37 percent thought doctors would have the most influence, followed by patients (20 percent), and nurses (14 percent).

Although it’s a challenge to keep informed about healthcare reform through accurate, unbiased data, it’s worthwhile, she said. There isn’t just one stakeholder—the federal government—in healthcare reform, Trautman pointed out. Much will be happening at the local level, giving doctors and nurses a voice, she said.

“I believe there’s opportunity for [medical professionals] to do more,” Trautman said.

Just like ACCC President George Kovach, she wants us to be vocal advocates, working with as well as for patients.

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