Nearly 50 million Americans lack health insurance. In response, many states and the federal government are considering options to expand health insurance coverage. To promote health care policies that will achieve meaningful increases in coverage at the state or federal level, elevate the consumer voice in health care reform, and strengthen state-based consumer health advocacy networks, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is funding the Consumer Voices for Coverage (CVC) program. The goal of this 12-state initiative is to support networks of consumer organizations and build their capacity to advocate effectively on health insurance coverage issues.
This report describes the level of core advocacy capacity among the leadership teams at the beginning of the initiative. Measures of capacity are subjective. They do not apply to the grantee organization itself, but to the entire leadership team, which in some states included organizations inexperienced in advocacy, or partners that had never before collaborated together. Data collected in 2009 show substantial increases in specific capacities at many sites. Therefore, the measures reported here should be viewed as a snapshot in time only, and should not be attributed to the CVC grantee organizations or any individual members of their coalitions. Rather, this information is provided to help CVC stakeholders determine the best opportunities for increasing network capacity.