Advocating to State Governments

Why Do We Advocate to State Governments? 

Make Your Journey Matter: Tell Your Story!

In the US, state governments and the federal government have divided responsibility to oversee different laws. Healthcare laws are regulated by both federal government and each states’ government depending on the law. For example: Health Insurance companies that cover services in more than 1 state are regulated by the federal government, BUT health insurance companies that are local and only cover services in 1 state are regulated by that state’s government. Another example: The federal government sets the standard for what “essential health benefits” should be covered by insurance, but each state government creates its own “benchmark” insurance plan that fits within the standards.

The state government also oversees the following:

  • The distribution of Medicaid
  • Formularies of drugs covered under Medicaid or other state-sponsored insurance plans
  • The licensing of healthcare professionals
  • Rules and regulations of medical facilities, such as plasma donation centers
  • The specifics of handicap accessibility

Because of this close relationship between the federal government and state governments, our advocacy work has to cover both.  The good news is that the work we do at each level of government will be complimentary! Here is an example: If we work with the federal government to make a change to Medicare, we can point to that policy when we talk to our state government partners about what insurance plans they offer. Similarly, if we work at the state level to make a change to what our patients can access through a state-level insurance plan, we can then work with that state’s federal representatives to make a change at the federal level.

How to Advocate at the State Level: 

  1. Know your State Representatives
    • Find your Representatives by clicking here and entering your address on the right hand side
  2. Know your issue
    • Is there a law in your state that makes getting your IVIG approved by your insurance company difficult?
    • Are you struggling to access public places because of a lack of handicapped accessibility?
    • Work with Chelsey at the Foundation to figure out what is going on in your state and how we can advocate to your State Representatives to fix it!
  3. Know your story
    • Education is key! You can always spend time telling your State Representatives your GBS,CIDP, or variant story to educate them on what it is like to live with a rare disease and the treatments or lifestyle changes that help you live your best life.
    • Practice telling your story with these steps:
      • Sentence 1: I was diagnosed with __________ in ___(year)___   at the age of ____, a time of my life when I was _____________.
      • Sentence 2: Share a detail about the diagnosis process.
      • Sentence 3: Share a detail about the treatment you received and whether you still receive treatment or experience side-effects.
      • Sentence 4: Share how your life is impacted now as a result of your diagnosis.
      • Sentence 5: My story is unique, but there are many other people in this state with similar and struggles, so I hope that you will work with me and the GBS|CIDP Foundation International to make policy changes that will help others impacted with this or a similar disease.

Quick Tips!

  • Your State Representatives are your neighbors! They often live and work in your community and are passionate about how to improve your neighborhood.
  • You can connect with your State Representatives by:
    • Visiting them at their office at the State Capitol OR their local office in your neighborhood
    • Writing them an email
    • Attending a community event that they are holding, like a town hall
    • Participating in – or organizing! – a Hill Day at the State Capitol with the GBS|CIDP community in your state
  • Working with the media can help your story get the attention of your State Representatives!
    • Local media are often enthusiastic to highlight rare disease stories in the community, and this could be a great jumping off point for you to get a meeting with your State Representative
    • Check out Rob’s Media Tips to get started , and we can help you apply Rob’s Tips to your advocacy goals!

Fast Facts:

  • Each State has its own Constitution
  • Except for 1 state (Nebraska), each State has 2 houses in their legislature (sometimes called chambers)
  • All 50 states elect a Governor and their State Representatives
  • People often interact more closely with their state and local governments than their federal governments
  • Each State also has a State Supreme Court
  • In many smaller states, legislators serve part-time and receive only nominal compensation. They may meet just a few weeks or months of the year before returning to their full-time occupations

State Advocacy News

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