In the last year, AcademyHealth has been updating our strategic plan, digesting the results of our 2011 membership survey, and developing strategies that will enhance our ability to best serve our members—including how we structure our advocacy. Representing our members and advocating for the field is a core function of any membership organization and in our most recent survey 87 percent of members rated advocacy as "important." To that end, today we’re announcing that, beginning February 1, AcademyHealth will assume the activities of our advocacy arm, the Coalition for Health Services Research. You may now be asking yourself, “Doesn’t AcademyHealth already do advocacy?” The answer is yes, sort of. Background: Two Organizations, One Mission: In 2000, the Coalition for Health Services Research (Coalition) was established as a separate organization to serve as the advocacy arm of AcademyHealth. As separate organizations, AcademyHealth and the Coalition had distinct bylaws, governance, and ledgers. Nevertheless, the organizations were very closely aligned. As the Coalition’s sole member, AcademyHealth had the responsibility of electing the Coalition’s Board of Directors, approving the Coalition’s annual budget, and ratifying changes to the Coalition’s bylaws. Finally, as President/CEO of AcademyHealth, Lisa Simpson also served as President/CEO of the Coalition. AcademyHealth and the Coalition were separate organizations legally, but were inextricably linked. Separation Caused Confusion: The complexity of this relationship has historically confused internal and external constituencies alike, including members, advocates, and policymakers. In AcademyHealth’s most recent member survey, you stressed for us the importance of advocacy and AcademyHealth’s role in promoting the value of the field. At the same time, you indicated your confusion about the Coalition and its role as AcademyHealth’s advocacy arm. In response to the confusion, AcademyHealth commissioned a review of the structural relationship of AcademyHealth and the Coalition. After reviewing the independent assessment, the AcademyHealth Board of Directors—at the recommendation of the Coalition Board—voted in December to consolidate into AcademyHealth the advocacy function previously undertaken by the Coalition. Going Forward—One Organization, Advocating for You: The current fiscal and political environment presents the biggest threat to health services research in decades. Discretionary funding for health services research will most certainly be cut as the scope and size of the federal budget continues to be debated. Streamlining the advocacy function and integrating it into AcademyHealth will improve transparency, help us enhance the visibility of the field, and allow for more effective communications about what health services research is and why it is valuable. In this time of fiscal austerity, clarity in our communications is critical. What Does this Change Mean for You? Functionally, very little. Your member dues will remain the same. We will continue to fight for your best interests in Washington, and we will still need your help. In fact, the most immediate impact is that you should see even more advocacy activity. Going forward, we have established a new standing committee of the AcademyHealth Board, the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (CAPP), comprised of former Coalition board members. CAPP members are working together with AcademyHealth Board members to organize "Hill days" when our members can talk directly to policymakers about their research and its impact. We did our first advocacy training at the 2011 ARM last summer and will be offering similar training more broadly at the 2012 ARM. We are also working with our Interest Group leaders to develop even more stories of the importance and impact of your work for use in our advocacy outreach. And, we will continue to look to you to help us make an even more compelling case for health services research. I hope you’ll answer the call. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected] with questions or concerns.