Iowa Nurses Association
Legislative/Lobby Day
February 16, 2012
Healthcare Policy: Sharing Our
Eastern Iowa Chapter (EIC) of
Oncology Nursing Society
How can Nurses Influence Health Care
Linda Moeller, BSN RN, Chapter Legislative
The Nurse as Advocate
• You ask me why I do
not write something.... I
think one's feelings
waste themselves in
words, they ought all to
be distilled into actions
and into actions which
bring results. - Florence
Nurses Can Influence the Health
Care Policy Debate
• The difference between “advocacy” and “lobbying”
– Public policy issues (e.g., the government should support
preventive health care) vs. specific legislation (a bill that
requires insurance companies to pay for the cost of cancer
• Lobbying = encouraging the passage, defeat or
modification of specific legislation. Any citizen, acting in
their personal interests can directly lobby a legislator about
a bill or law.
• Advocacy = a process of activities designed to influence
public policy debates and resource allocation by elected
officials. Advocacy includes thing such as media
campaigns, legislative lobbying, public speaking, etc.
Nurses Can Influence the Health
Care Policy Debate (Continued)
• Why policymakers need nurses
– Very few elected officials/policy makers are nurses
– Nursing is recognized as the most ethical and honest of
professions (Gallup Annual Honesty and Ethics
• This is the time for nurses to take an advocacy
– The Affordable Care Act
– Institute of Medicine/Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation Report on “The Future of Nursing Leading
Change, Improving Health”
The Affordable Care Act
• Extends coverage to up to 34 million people
uninsured, including children up to age 26
• Mandates individual and employer coverage
• Prohibits insurance companies from denying
coverage in certain situations
• Creates state and federal insurance exchanges
• Supports development of the health care
Report on “The Future of Nursing
Leading Change, Improving Health”
• Nurses should be
full partners, with
physicians and
other health care
professionals, in
redesigning health
care in the United
Meeting Policy Makers
• Meeting time with elected
officials and policy
makers may be tight – it
is important to get your
key points out early and
• Elected officials and
policy makers may need
to be educated on health
care issues.
Tips for an Effective Visit with
Policy Makers
• Be organized and recognize the importance of the
policy maker’s time
• Know what you want to say – be brief and clear
• Anticipate questions and listen carefully
• Reference personal examples and relevant local data
• Discuss outcomes/consequences if no action taken
• Receive a commitment for a time to follow-up and
leave contact information
• Offer your thanks, obtain the policy maker’s contact
information and follow-up with a thank you letter and
telephone call
The Value of Constituent Meetings
and Communications
• Constituent meetings,
letters, e-mails and other
direct communications
make legislators and
policy makers more
responsive to their
• Individual visits and
letters/e-mails written by
individuals are more
persuasive than “generic”
mass-produced letters
and e-mails.
Why Legislators Like Nurses
• Nurses can be trusted and understand the “big
picture” issues of health care.
• Nurses have a first-hand and direct bedside
understanding of patient (constituent) needs.
• Nurses are tenacious and reliable.
• Nurses are on the side of patients
(constituents) and not on the side of health care
An Example of Oncology Nurse
• Colon cancer is the second leading cancer killer;
appropriate screening can lead to early detection
and successful treatment.
• 30 states and Washington DC have passes laws
that support insurance coverage for colon cancer
screening; the state of Iowa, however, does not
mandate full coverage of colon screening by
insurance providers.
• Requesting Iowa legislators to introduce and
support such legislation.
How can I Become Involved?
• Participate in nursing organizations and patient
interest groups
– ONS – webpage has link to legislation and
advocacy (
– Iowa Nurses Association – webpage link to public
policy issues (
– Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Action – One Voice
Against Cancer (
ONS-Supported Legislative and
Regulatory Proposals
• If ONS is asked to take a position on a legislative
or regulatory proposal, its Board of Directors
reviews the proposal and decides whether not to
support the proposal based on the following
– ONS mission, goals and objectives; previous policy
positions ONS has taken in the past, ONS health
policy agenda priorities for the current year; and the
role that ONS and oncology nurses would play in the
particular issue or policy being proposed.
Conclusion: The Importance of
Nurse Advocacy
• “Unless we are
making progress in
our nursing every
year, every month,
every week, take
my word for it we
are going back.”
– Florence

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