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Toolkit for Creating Consumer Participation in Policy Decisions: Sustaining Health Advocacy and Improving Outcomes

Each day, policymakers take actions and reach decisions which directly affect consumers. Healthcare related policy decisions such as emergency room closure reviews, health plan ownership changes, regulations governing medical error reports and health insurance rate reviews, for example, have an especially widespread impact. For this reason, it is important that these policymakers take the consumer perspective into consideration when they act. The laws that govern these proceedings achieve the most positive policy outcomes for consumers when they encourage and facilitate the participation of consumer groups. Advocacy for systemic change often takes many years to achieve success, but the improved consumer features that result make it worthwhile for advocates to pursue this work. Statutes that compensate advocates for their contribution to sound policy development, foster consumer involvement and ensure that the important work of protecting consumers and the marketplace can continue.
Consumer groups have been successful in getting such laws enacted in California and other states. You too can create a program within your state code that provides a framework for individuals or consumer groups to participate formally in administrative proceedings and be funded for their contributions. There are a number of California laws that have established successful programs which have greatly benefited the public . This paper begins with a brief overview of these programs and is followed by a Workbook that will help you draft a program tailored to your state.

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