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More MS news articles for April 2003

Public Policy Advocacy — A Role for Healthcare Professionals

A Clinical Bulletin from the Professional Resource Center of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

http://www.nationalmssociety.org/pdf/forpros/PublicPolicy.pdf

April 2003

Healthcare professionals have an important role to play as advocates for people with multiple sclerosis and other health problems. With a modicum of knowledge about healthcare policy and political strategy, healthcare professionals can influence the development, passage, and implementation of legislation that will enhance many aspects of their patients’ care.

WHY ADVOCATE?

CURRENT ISSUES IN NEED OF ADVOCACY

Healthcare policy might be defined as those issues concerning the organization, delivery, and financing of healthcare, starting from the patient/doctor encounter and extending to society as a whole. Other important issues concern federal funding of biomedical research and support for medical education. There are many issues deserving of an advocate’s support, including:

PATIENTS’ RIGHTS

Healthcare professionals should also help patients maintain and enjoy the rights they have already been awarded with regard to their medical condition, including:

POLITICAL STRATEGY 101

Political strategy is largely common sense. One must determine which issues have political importance and are therefore likely to appear on the healthcare policy agenda. This is accomplished by listening to the concerns of the public, the media, and political leaders. To influence the appropriate people, one must then determine which governmental body (agency, committee, subcommittee) is involved, and who has the decision-making power. It is most important to act when the “policy window” is open, and to continue to advocate for legislation until the necessary changes are accomplished.

HOW TO ADVOCATE EFFECTIVELY AT THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL LEVEL

HOW TO ADVOCATE EFFECTIVELY FOR INDIVIDUAL PATIENTS

To advocate effectively for individuals with MS, you will need to practice good documentation. This includes detailing the effects of MS and its treatment, and noting the ways in which the patient’s disease is affecting activities of daily living. With such evidence, healthcare providers can advocate for their patients in such areas as insurance coverage, Social Security eligibility, and employment competency.
 

©2003 National Multiple Sclerosis Society