Advocacy key to health reform

Much of the progress in health care reform has taken place at the state level, due in large part to the efforts of consumer advocates, a new study says.

“Consumer Health Advocacy: A View from 16 States,” released by Boston-based Community Catalyst and funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, expects that trend to continue as reform heats up.

Based on interviews with local and state leaders and surveys of health advocacy groups, the report concludes state-level advocates can ignite change in areas such as Medicaid, State Children’s Health Insurance Programs and access to care.

Success of advocates depends in part on the political and economic environment of the state, the ability of advocacy groups to conduct grassroots organizing and the availability of funding and resources for advocacy efforts, the report says.

To promote stronger health advocacy at the state level, the report recommends building and strengthening state advocacy systems based on local needs, as well as creating a national program to assist with coordination and strategy.

Advocates also can build momentum for their causes by working with other groups and states to create issues campaigns, the report says.

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