2017 ASH Advocacy Activities
In advocacy, there is strength in numbers, so ASH is continuing to increase its efforts to expand and enhance the Society’s reach. NIH funding, efforts to ensure patient access to drugs, and sickle cell disease remain top priorities on ASH’s advocacy agenda in 2017. More than ever, ASH needs help from its members to educate Congress, federal officials, and the public, on these (and other) issues.
- ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI). ASH remains committed to educating its members on how to become effective advocates for hematology research and practice. Advocacy is one of those instances where expanding the Society’s base of advocates is crucial to having ASH’s message heard in Congress and the federal agencies. Since 2011, the ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) has provided a forum for ASH members to learn about legislation and health policy affecting hematology research and practice. Many participants become “go-to” advocates for ASH, taking quick action when legislative alerts are sent out to members. Additionally, the program helps identify leaders for future service on ASH’s committees and programs.
The first day of the two-day institute focuses on learning about the legislative process, health policy, and advocacy strategies, including the role of the media in advocacy. Speakers typically include ASH Government Relations staff, ASH members active in advocacy efforts, and individuals from advocacy organizations, congressional offices, and federal agencies. On the second day, participants travel to Capitol Hill to visit their Representatives and Senators to apply what was learned on the first day of the program. The seventh annual ASH Advocacy Leadership Institute was held on September 28-29, 2017. The 2017 agenda and participant list is available on the ASH website.
- ASH Congressional Fellowship. This year, in conjunction with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Society launched the ASH Congressional Fellowship program. This program provides the opportunity for an ASH member to work in a congressional office on Capitol Hill for a year. The fellowship allows a hematologist to learn about the policy making process and help shape health care and hematology policy. The fellowship also provides an opportunity to educate congressional members and staff about hematology and to learn about Congress’ relationship to the hematology community. Catherine Zander, PhD, of the University of Alabama, Birmingham, was selected as the Society’s inaugural fellow and is currently working on the staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has responsibility for many issues related to public health and research.
- ASH Advocacy Toolkit. In August, ASH launched a new online advocacy toolkit to provide members with the information and guidance necessary to communicate with elected officials in support of hematology. The new toolkit clearly and concisely explains how members can undertake a number of actions to support ASH’s advocacy efforts, including: emailing or calling their legislators; using social media to engage with elected officials; attending a town hall meeting; and working with ASH staff to set up in-person meetings with elected officials in Washington, DC or in district offices.
- ASH Advocacy Survey. ASH recently launched a survey of all U.S. members to learn about what advocacy topics matter most to the Society’s membership and the ways in which members would like to engage with their elected officials. If you have not yet taken the survey but would like the opportunity to help shape the future of ASH’s advocacy and policy efforts in Washington, please click here.
- District Advocacy Visits. Over the past several months, several ASH advocates met with their federal representatives at their local offices in their home states or districts during so-called “district visits” to advocate on behalf of ASH’s policy priorities. ASH is appreciative of the visits made by Drs. Terry Gernsheimer, Lawrence Lamb, Jennifer Holter-Chakrabarty, and Brad Schwartz who spoke to their federal representatives back home about research funding and sickle cell disease. These face-to-face meetings with Members and their staff are often the best way for ASH to voice its thoughts and concerns about issues impacting hematology research and practice.
- ASH/THSNA Hill Day. On June 7, members of ASH, and researchers, physicians, and patients from the Thrombosis & Hemostasis Societies of North America (THSNA) visited 35 congressional offices in Washington, DC, to discuss the value of biomedical research and federal public health programs with Members of Congress. Participants urged Members of Congress to oppose the significant cuts to NIH and CDC called for in President Trump’s proposed budget and to provide increases in funding for these agencies in fiscal year (FY) 2018.