Every December, there is a flurry of association activity in Washington, D.C. ‘Tis the season for professional and trade organizations to finalize their federal advocacy agendas for the upcoming year.
Advocacy is an essential focus of America’s Blood Centers. ABC is the sole organization that represents its members in advancing their interests through legislative advocacy in Congress and regulatory advocacy before various federal agencies. ABC aims to monitor and influence the various federal laws and regulations that impact our members’ ability to provide a safe and sufficient blood supply.
Through developing relationships with key decision makers around the value of community blood centers and the blood products they supply, we create the framework for influence. Becoming a trusted expert is a critical and time-consuming responsibility given the churn of congressional seats and agency appointees.
ABC’s advocacy agenda may go beyond the “meet and greet” and “group think” by developing the “asks” that reflect the unique interests of our members. An “ask” is a clearly articulated statement telling decision makers what ABC members want. The “ask” should include no more than three requests in order to not squander our political resources. This week, two fellow ABC executives and I met with our Washington lobbying firm to evaluate advocacy work done in 2013 and brainstorm advocacy issues for 2014.
To develop “the ask,” ABC members must consider two questions – What are the most critical problems that I have in my business? and Is there a legislative or regulatory change that will mitigate these challenges? Through a survey, our members recently prioritized a short list of government affairs issues, some of which are listed below. What “asks” do you feel will be most effective in addressing the challenges facing blood centers?
- Prevent payment of bone marrow donors;
- Monitor implementation of various legislation and regulatory policy;
- Oppose caps on charitable giving deduction;
- Reform the medical malpractice system;
- Obtain blood-related funding and grants;
- Achieve and maintain tax breaks and policies that benefit blood centers;
- Develop mechanism to recognize the value of blood availability rather than blood use;
- Achieve a carve-out or pass through for blood product reimbursement;
- Obtain payment to blood centers for wellness activities (e.g., screening, vaccinations);
- Develop value-based purchasing measures for blood payment incentives;
- Obtain reimbursement for therapeutic apheresis.
With member input and staff support, ABC’s Government Affairs Committee will prepare the 2014 ABC Advocacy Agenda for the ABC board’s approval. Armed with this roadmap, ABC will employ coordinated strategies in the legislative, regulatory, political, grassroots, grasstops, and public relations arenas to create our future.
Christine S. Zambricki, DNAP, CRNA, FAAN, Chief Executive Officer; firstname.lastname@example.org