State Policy-Makers' Views on the Role of Consumer Advocates in Health Policy Discussions

Consumer Voices for Coverage Evaluation

As part of the Consumer Voices for Coverage (CVC) evaluation, Mathematica interviewed key policy-makers in the 12 CVC states in mid-2010 to assess changes in the involvement, influence and effectiveness of consumer advocacy groups in shaping state health coverage policy over the period of the CVC grant program (2008 to 2010). Major findings from these interviews, conducted between July and September 2010, included: 1) most policy-makers believe consumer advocacy groups in their state have become more involved in the development of health coverage policies in the past three years through greater interaction and communication with policy-makers; and 2) the majority (62%) of respondents believe consumer advocacy groups increased their influence on state health coverage policy by a great deal or to a moderate degree over the past few years.

This positive assessment comes with qualifications. Half of all respondents believed that the political environment itself in this period was an important contributor to consumer advocates' increased involvement or influence. As the political environment changes in some CVC states, consumer groups will have to engage newly elected policy-makers, reach across party lines and build relationships with new leaders to continue having a voice in health policy within their states, and a role in shaping the states' response to federal health reform.