HEAT program makes local healthcare legislation top of mind

You may be thinking to yourself, “I work in advertising, why do I need to know about my local legislators?” or “My boss and CEO are up to date on these issues, why should I care?”

The truth is, you really should.

As your local legislature continues to debate issues such as Medicaid funding, mandatory overtime and other hospital regulations, the long-term success of your hospital could be compromised. By joining the WHA’s grassroots advocacy program, the Hospitals Education & Advocacy Team (HEAT), links together resources and assistance to make sure Wisconsin hospitals, not legislators, shape the future.

I caught up with Jenny Boese, vice president of federal affairs and advocacy with the Wisconsin Hospital Association, to help explain the benefits.

Boese helped spearhead the program in 2005, bringing it to nearly 2,400 members to date. She says the goal has always been to connect people who work in healthcare, with their local legislators. “The HEAT program provides our members with the information, the insight, the strategy, and the assistance needed to help share the legislative issues that are impacting their hospitals, clinics and the patients they serve,” said Boise. “It’s a way for us to mobilize people collectively to engage in local issues that affect them directly, such as Medicare reimbursements – that’s a hot button issue right now across the board.”

As a member, HEAT membership is designed for anyone interested. Such as hospital employees, board members, volunteers or other individuals associated with a hospital or healthcare system. It’s free and provides a wide variety of member benefits including WHA’s online action center where you are connected with key members of legislation.

“Our members determine how much they want to be involved,” Boese continues. “Members are given the tools needed to bring issues to the forefront such as a special toolkit and legislative action alerts when timely communication to legislators need to be made. “For example, right now it is state budget time. The Governor will discuss Medicare reimbursement. So, we would then issue an action alert to nab support on those issues.”

If a member hasn’t a clue on how to approach specific issues, the program assists by setting up meetings and roundtable discussions. “We help our members with briefing materials and talking points so they can effectively communicate with legislators.”

WHA’s premier grassroots event, WHA Annual Advocacy Day in Madison on April 28, was created and dedicated to healthcare advocacy. The event is designed to educate and motivate health care employees, trustees and volunteers on important healthcare-related issues and to encourage grassroots advocacy opportunities. Speakers give timely insight to state and federal healthcare issues, and participating in legislative visits allows attendees to speak up on behalf of their hospitals.

It’s time to get engaged in healthcare legislation. You have a voice. We can take our industry experience, day-to-day experiences with patients, healthcare providers and administrators, and get involved in the legislative process. It’s part of our job, and critical in these changing times, to relay our experiences and insight to our legislators who create policies on our behalf.

To become a member, CLICK HERE or contact Jenny Boese at (608) 268-1816 or jboese@wha.org for a membership form.

This post was written and researched by Trish Skram. If you have other news, resources or links to share, please comment below or email Trish Skram, blogger and research content specialist for WHPRMS, at trishskram@gmail.com.

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