Members of the health and research communities often find that their roles extend beyond the implementation and practice of health services research; they also have a responsibility to promote this field and advocate for its place in health policy and society. This February, AcademyHealth’s newly formed Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy (CAPP) had its inaugural meeting at the National Health Policy Conference (NHPC) in Washington, D.C. The committee was established to aid the AcademyHealth Board of Directors in the development of policy positions and public comments as well as direct the organization’s strategic vision on advocacy efforts. As part of the CAPP’s role, committee members are invited to participate in Hill Days, where individuals are able to speak with Members of Congress and their legislative staff about HSR and AcademyHealth’s role in the field. The CAPP’s first official Hill Day was held in conjunction with its meeting at the 2012 NHPC, and we have heard from those who participated that this experience was both valuable and insightful. CAPP member Lucy Savitz, who met with staff from the offices of Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, said that advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill are critical, for that is where the future of health funding is largely determined:
“It’s not easy for staffers to see the value of our work…By giving examples of HSR that were aligned with my congressional representative’s interests (e.g., efficiency and waste reduction in health care spending), I felt that we had a receptive and positive meeting and that this began, what I hope, is a productive exchange.” “Most important was the offer of AcademyHealth to serve as a trusted broker of knowledge of emergent issues, which speaks to the breadth and depth of expertise among our membership,” Savitz said.Now, with health services research under increased scrutiny by policymakers, advocating for health services research as a way to improve the quality, cost, and effectiveness of health care is all the more essential. If you would like to become involved or would like more information about AcademyHealth’s advocacy efforts, please visit our website at www.academyhealth.org/advocacy.