LeadingAge Magazine · November/December 2014 • Volume 04 • Number 06

Advocacy Puts LeadingAge Pathways on the Public Agenda

November 10, 2014 | by Tommy Goodwin

LeadingAge Pathways, a framework for finding sustainable ways to fund long-term services and supports in the U.S., will rely on advocacy to start the necessary national conversation.

While members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate were back home for the August Congressional recess, members of the LeadingAge board of directors mobilized across the country to advocate for long-term services and supports (LTSS) financing.

From coast to coast, board members hosted elected officials at their communities to talk about LeadingAge Pathways, LeadingAge’s report that outlines seven options, or pathways, that our nation could undertake to change how we plan and pay for LTSS. Others shared Pathways with members of Congress and their staff at meetings in their local offices or at invitation-only public policy forums.

The meetings were successful in raising awareness around the need for a national conversation about LTSS financing. They also gave policymakers the opportunity to learn more about LeadingAge and its members, see first-hand the urgent need for LTSS financing, and hear directly from community residents about their concerns.

“While LeadingAge hits Capitol Hill every day, meeting with lawmakers back home is just as important … maybe even more so,” says Cheryl Phillips, senior vice president for public policy and advocacy. “With members of Congress in a more relaxed environment outside of the Washington, DC ‘bubble,’ it is easier to spend more time with them and talk about big-picture issues like LTSS financing reform.”

In Iowa, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) visited Rob Kretzinger and his team at Edgewater, a WesleyLife retirement community in West Des Moines, to learn more about Pathways and chat with residents. He was introduced to the group by Lloyd Clarke, an old friend and Edgewater resident. Grassley noted, “Representative government is a two-way street. I’m one half of the process, and Iowans are the other half. Meetings like this session at Edgewater help me communicate with, and hear from, constituents about what’s on their minds.”

Similarly, Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) stopped by Vista del Monte in Santa Barbara, CA to meet with Roberta Jacobson from Front Porch Communities and Services, talk about Pathways, and have a question-and-answer session with residents. Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) even took time out of his Pathways visit to Steven Horowitz’s Saint Elizabeth Court to present resident Raymond Mahon with his earned—but never received—World War II medals.

“These visits and meetings show what we already know … LeadingAge members are our best lobbyists!” says LeadingAge President and CEO Larry Minnix. “From hitting the Hill during our PEAK conference advocacy day to meeting with politicians back home, nobody can drive home the importance of achieving a solution to how LTSS is delivered and paid for like the folks who take care of our older Americans each and every day.”

Meetings like these will continue across the country as LeadingAge looks to build local, state and national coalitions to have community conversations and ignite a national movement towards solutions that impact our national LTSS financing challenge. For more information on how you can get involved, please email Tommy Goodwin, LeadingAge’s director of member advocacy, at tgoodwin@leadingage.org.

Editor’s note: See this issue’s Vision column, “We Must Find Pathways to Transform Financing for Long-Term Services and Supports,” for an interview with Kathryn Roberts, LeadingAge chair-elect and chair of the Long-Term Services and Supports Financing Task Force.