State capitals are the site of many important decisions about health care-- from defining Medicaid eligibility to creating rules for small business health insurance. For more than a decade, significant health policy decisions have shifted from the federal government to the states. Building strong consumer advocacy at the state level has never been more important. A core activity of Community Catalyst since its inception, the State Consumer Health Advocacy Program provides a broad range of support to state consumer advocates tailored to the unique circumstances of each state. The Program promotes cross-state coordination so that advocates can share strategies and policy solutions while identifying emerging opportunities.
As documented in Community Catalyst’s October 2006 report, Consumer Health Advocacy: A View from 16 States,consumer advocacy organizations vary widely. The State Consumer Health Advocacy Program seeks to enhance the core competencies of state-based consumer advocacy organizations through support of:
- Strategic planning, organizational development, and coalition building support
- Policy support and analysis
- Communications development
- Organizing strategic issue campaigns
By amplifying the consumer voice and investing in skill-building at the state level, this program serves as a learning network of advocates. Community Catalyst connects its in-depth policy knowledge with its work with state advocates to identify emerging issues ripe for intervention. These include: hospital charity care, non-profit to for-profit conversions, prescription drugs, community benefits, state coverage expansion, and insurance reform. In organizing strategic issue campaigns, Community Catalyst coordinates with national advocacy groups and other stakeholders to build alliances that can achieve policy change.
Projects based in the State Consumer Health Advocacy Program include:
Consumer Voices For Coverage, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Community Catalyst focuses on ensuring consumer concerns are represented in both state and national health care reform in 18 states.
Southern Health Partners, an initiative of the Public Welfare Foundation and Community Catalyst focuses on focuses on building and strengthening the capacity of 11 southern state-based consumer organizations that represent the needs and concerns of the uninsured, underinsured, and members of vulnerable populations.