Health care reform is in forefront of conversations in state legislatures and our nation’s capitol. Over the past decade, there has been a significant shift in awareness, attitudes, and the vision for creating real health care reform in this country. With skyrocketing health care costs and deteriorating access to affordable coverage, more people are demanding change for a stronger health care system that is there when they need it.
Consumer Voices for Coverage, a joint initiative of Community Catalyst and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) focuses on ensuring consumer concerns are represented in both state and national health care reform. See our report Staying the Course: The Essential Role of Consumer Advocates in Reforming Health Care for an overview of the project's work to date.
In February 2008, Consumer Voices for Coverage began to boost the enormous groundswell of activity at the state level to reduce the number of people without health insurance. The program supports the important role that state-based consumer health advocacy can play in promoting innovative and comprehensive health reform efforts. As the National Program Office, Community Catalyst provides state-based consumer advocates in 18 states with the skills, expertise and resources needed to have a stronger presence and play a more meaningful role in the state and national health reform debates.
In May 2011, RWJF announced a new initiative to invest in technical assistance, research and monitoring, and consumer engagement to support efforts to maximize coverage gains made possible by the new national health care law. Technical assistance to 10 states will be provided the newly created State Health Reform Assistance Network. Recognizing that consumers’ voices will be critical to successful implementation, the Foundation will support consumer engagement in the policy development process in these 10 states through an initiative led by Community Catalyst. For more information, visit the RWJF website.
Consumer Voices for Coverage followed the publication of Consumer Health Advocacy: A View from 16 States by Community Catalyst. This study found that a strong consumer voice is critical in protecting or expanding health care access. In order to be effective consumers need to organize into state advocacy networks with the ability to:
- analyze complex legal and policy issues in order to develop achievable policy alternatives;
- build a strong grassroots base of support;
- design and implement communications strategies to build timely public and political support for reform;
- build and sustain strong broad-based coalitions and maintain strategic alliances with other stakeholders;
- develop and implement strategic health policy campaigns; and
- generate resources from diverse sources to build organizational infrastructure.
Consumer Voices for Coverage supports consumer advocates in promoting comprehensive state and national health reform efforts. Community Catalyst and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation believe that effective advocacy supported by a strong infrastructure will educate policy-makers and opinion leaders about the need for coverage expansions. The Consumer Voices for Coverage project is based in Community Catalyst’s State Consumer Health Advocacy Program.
With a commitment to building a learning community, the project will expand its reach well beyond the grant-funded states by broadly sharing best practices, model policies and campaign tools.