The underlying processes associated with advocacy—whether legislative, regulatory or political—are arduous and complex. As a result, measures of “success” are often characterized by progress within the process, or in other words, to advance a given initiative even if additional work is still required.
Admittedly, this innate feature of advocacy-related efforts can be frustrating and may beg the question, “why bother?” To best answer this inquiry, we start from the beginning. “Advocacy” is defined as the act or process of supporting a cause or proposal. The Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) engages in expansive advocacy efforts with an overarching goal to support its members and the patients they serve. To achieve this goal, the SVS monitors and engages in issues relating to workforce and physician wellness, easing regulatory burdens, and payment/reimbursement (to name a few). However, each of these example issue areas generates its own web of opportunities for engagement via both the legislative and regulatory processes. The existence of these opportunities brings us back to the notion of progress within the process.
While our end-goal is the enactment of SVS-supported policies, the complexities of advocacy work often result in, or require, multi-year efforts. As result, shorter-term strategies are often driven by efforts to advance an initiative within the process. For a new piece of legislation, this might mean establishing a robust group of bipartisan cosponsors or securing a committee hearing. In the regulatory realm, we might focus on meeting with critical stakeholders from relevant agencies or delaying the implementation of a policy that we believe needs adjustment. While these aren’t “finish-line” objectives, they are critical steps in the process and denote a successful byproduct of our ongoing advocacy efforts. These days, even the most passive observer of advocacy-related issues is likely aware of the heightened partisanship that is generating an especially difficult policy-making environment on Capitol Hill. While frustrating, it makes the SVS’ efforts to expand our advocacy footprint even more important.
By engaging in these initiatives—responding to Voter Voice “Calls to Act,” contributing to SVS Political Action Committee (PAC) or joining our grassroots key contact network—you will help us advance our priorities through the legislative and regulatory processes. Together, we can make a difference. To learn more, visit vascular.org/advocacy.
Megan Marcinko is the SVS director of advocacy.