Perhaps I’ve been watching a bit too much of the Little League World Series, or perhaps I’m day-dreaming of being on a farm in Iowa instead of in the throes of Capitol Hill, but the movie “Field of Dreams” recently came to mind in relation to our legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts. Before I soil an iconic movie with the taint of our current political environment, I will preface the rest of my article with the caveat that what originally drew me to politics, and keeps me loving it to this day, is the founding principle that citizen advocacy is not only a right, but a responsibility, and any individual can make a difference.
In order to increase our effectiveness in the advocacy arena, ABC has built two new programs that help ABC members communicate with their legislators and regulators more effectively, in greater volume, and with greater ease than ever before. With the launch of ABC’s new public-facing advocacy website, ABC members, their employees, patients, donors, hospital customers and community supporters can weigh-in on issues before Congress and the agencies that affect community blood centers. In the coming weeks, we will call upon ABC members to utilize this system to submit public comments to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) regarding appropriate reimbursement for blood in the outpatient hospital sector.
The second program is aimed at bringing key legislators to tour community blood centers to see first-hand the full value centers bring to their local communities, and the issues impacting members’ ability to continue the vital services they provide. Both of these programs have been designed to increase our advocacy impact without adding cumbersome tasks to members’ already full plates. It takes no more than a few minutes to write an effective message on our advocacy website. To host a blood center tour requires an hour of your day, with ABC conducting all of the logistical work.
Not to belabor the analogy, but these programs were built to bring ABC members from the edge of the cornfields into the ballgame, and then eventually bring your legislators along with you. I may come dangerously close to a cliff with this statement, but I truly believe that our greatest obstacle to success in the advocacy arena is ourselves. Dwight D. Eisenhower never did fulfill his childhood dream of playing professional baseball, but he did go on to utter one of my favorite quotes – “Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen.” We have one of the greatest stories to tell in all of health care and we now have resources that help us tell it. Play ball!
Katherine Fry; Chief Administrative Officer