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LeadingAge Public Policy Congress Meets in DC

by Published On: May 31, 2012Updated On: Sep 06, 2012

The LeadingAge Public Policy Congress convened September 6 and 7, to continue its work on  public policy principles. Policy Congress workgroups spent the past summer deliberating on the most critical issues facing LeadingAge members and drafting principles to address them.

On the first day of the meeting, Diane Aviv, president and CEO of The Independent Sector, addressed the group to talk about the constantly changing political landscape. In addition to numerous quotes and anecdotes that illustrated the importance of steadfastness and perseverance in times of adversity, Aviv stressed the value of defining and protecting the tax-exempt status of providers, and of ensuring that legislators know the benefits that nonprofit aging services providers offer the community.

Day 2 had the participants creating and sharing policy principles in workgroups to listen to a panel discussion on private insurers, housing and healthcare. The panel included Karen Ignani, president and CEO of American Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), who spoke about examining the field from both a supply and demand perspective.

Most of the work groups are editing their policy principles. These will be shared, in the form of a short white paper, with the Board of Directors for approval and then back out to our LeadingAge members, the state associations and the state association boards, and will be used by the LeadingAge staff to create the specific policy objectives for the upcoming Congress. 

We'll get them posted online once they are approved at our Annual Meeting in Denver.

April 22 Meeting

On April 22, the LeadingAge Public Policy Congress met for the 2nd time since the change from the House of Delegates. The Public Policy Congress, which represents the membership and exercises leadership in identifying public policy priorities, serves as the deliberative body of LeadingAge with the responsibility to discuss and recommend public policy principles to the LeadingAge Board of Directors for approval.

What happened at the meeting?

Audrey Weiner, our Public Policy Congress chair, and chair of the LeadingAge Board of Directors, opened the meeting by reviewing the charge to the Policy Congress members and acknowledging the critical role that each member plays in this new process.

Weiner noted that while different from the House of Delegates, which focused on current issues and legislations, the LeadingAge Public Policy Congress will be forward-looking and tasked with developing policy principles that will guide the organization and its advocacy work for future years.

“The work of this Leading Age Public Policy Congress will be deliberative and will involve a number of steps that will include sorting through an array of competing issues to identify priorities and translating these issues into meaningful problem statements, which will then be used as a foundation for the work to create the principle statements that will help guide LeadingAge into the future,” Weiner said.

John Rother, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care and the former policy director for AARP, lead the Public Policy Congress through a discussion addressing our current environment and challenges for health care policy.

Rother reminded us to “think big, as the usual complaints won’t get us where we need to go.” In looking at our Public Policy Congress process, he suggested that this is a continuous feedback cycle and that we need to closely listen to our constituency that includes not only the seniors and the families we serve, but also the staff who provide the care.

What are the policy process steps?

Rother summarized the important work of advocacy into 6 essential elements:

  1. Ensure we are all “on message” and on the same policy page.
  2. Develop champions that include media, caregivers and legislators.
  3. Create a personal face to the message.
  4. Mobilize caregivers.
  5. Utilize hometown Member visits – cultivate congressional staff relationships.
  6. Use media well with message consistency.

He closed with sharing, “You are all my heroes. This organization has an important mission and role. Godspeed.”


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