Effective Advocacy in the 21st Century

(December 2011)

Although many Washington-based advocacy groups use the legsilative process to advocate for social change, effective advocacy on the federal or local levels is about more than moving the legislature to act.

For the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC), administrative advocacy is a powerful and game-changing tool for advancing social policy objectives in relation to entitlement programs for the elderly poor.

Administrative advocacy is not so much about lobbying legislators or mobilizing the general public to get behind an issue. Instead, it is about targeting government agencies, often working with the agency itself, to affect positive change. It can also entail mobilizing the help and support of other advocates as needed and employing litigation when all else fails.

Last year, the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would have forced Medicare plans to translate materials only for languages where a given geographical service area’s population reached at least 10 percent. NSCLC asked advocates nationwide to seek a 5 percent threshold instead. As a result of the outpouring of support for the recommended change and NSCLC’s voice on the issue, CMS listened and changed the threshold.

At the American Society on Aging’s Aging in America Conference this March, I will be presenting on effective legal advocacy with a focus on how lawyers and others can use administrative advocacy and community organizing to help expand and protect the income security and health care programs for the low-income older adult. Please join me in Washington, DC March 31st for this session.

P.S. To read a longer article on this same topic from ASA’s Aging Today publication, click here.


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