State chapters can send customized alerts about state-specific issues and work with ACP national staff to develop or enhance their advocacy strategy and activities
Nov. 3, 2023 (ACP) -- A great deal of advocacy activity takes place at the state level, and the American College of Physicians is empowering state chapters with increased support, including state-specific advocacy alerts on hot topics and consultations with national policy staff members.
ACP sends out alerts about federal legislation through its Legislative Action Center, and now, state chapters can also send customized alerts about state-specific issues to their members. ACP chapter leaders can also request help with the creation of grassroots alerts via the ACP advocacy platform, VoterVoice. Additionally, ACP national staff who work on state health policy issues are available for consultations to develop or enhance a state chapter's advocacy strategy and activities.
The Wisconsin ACP chapter is an early adopter of these new state-level advocacy tools and has seen positive results so far.
“The events of the last few years, including the COVID pandemic and our closely divided national political environment, have prompted state governments around the country to take a more central role in making decisions that influence the practice of medicine,” said Dr. Ann M. Maguire, governor of the ACP Wisconsin Chapter.
Specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court Dobbs decision was a galvanizing event for many Wisconsin ACP Chapter members because it resulted in an immediate statewide abortion ban.
“With the support of Shuan Tomlinson and the national ACP policy team, our chapter issued a statement voicing our concerns about the consequences of this policy for our patients and our profession,” she said.
This fall, the chapter worked with ACP to send grassroots alerts facilitating messages to state legislators on firearm safety bills that promote safe gun storage and a bill looking to from six weeks to 12 months. “These alerts serve to take direct action towards policy and also educate our membership about priority ACP advocacy issues,” Maguire said. “Our members find using the ACP Legislative Action Center empowering and effective.”
“We rely on the robust support of the ACP national advocacy staff to ensure our actions align with ACP policy,” she added. “Maintaining good communication with the chapter governor, chapter staff, the Governor's Council and ACP national advocacy staff is crucial.”
As a result of these initial efforts, many members of the Wisconsin ACP chapter began reaching out and asking to see more chapter-level advocacy around gun violence prevention, climate change and state legislative activities related to COVID-19 prevention and treatment, Maguire noted. This resulted in a surge of interest in the chapter's Health and Public Policy Committee.
Dr. Sophie Kramer, chair of the Health and Public Policy Committee of the Wisconsin ACP Chapter, used this increase in interest to develop advocacy work groups for more targeted action.
“We determined the areas members felt most passionate about, including reproductive rights; climate and health; gun safety; medical misinformation; and health care coverage, including Medicaid expansion,” Kramer explained. “Having members who become topic specialists lead these advocacy work groups has allowed us to bring targeted action, including chapter statements, letters to officials, collaborating with other statewide medical professional organizations, meetings with legislators, public testimony and op-eds.”
Now, the goal is to share these grassroots alerts with other state medical organizations to expand the impact of ACP advocacy. “Collaborating with other statewide health professional organizations can have big rewards,” Kramer said.
Members are encouraged to reach out to their state chapter governor or state Health and Public Policy Committee if they have ideas for their state.