By Meghan O’Brien
Representing the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to Congress and the federal agencies, while rewarding and fun, is also a big job. One of the things I enjoy about working in federal government relations is navigating the interplay between branches of government, staff, members of Congress and appointed officials. Our system of government is complex, endlessly intricate and anything but boring! To be effective in such a system takes many things: patience, communication, intelligence and sometimes, yes, pure luck. There are however, a number of tools that lobbyists utilize (and no, I don’t mean anything you might see on a network drama about Washington D.C.), and one of the most important and effective is to harness the power in numbers.
Coalitions are an often overlooked and commonly misunderstood aspect of the Washington D.C. advocacy fabric. Just like associations, there are many kinds of coalitions, each with a unique mission, membership, strategy, focus and style. The common thread is that each brings together organizations, companies, associations and like-minded individuals to unite for a common goal. Some exist for a short-term goal and others grow and evolve over time. One influential and effective example is the Patients’ Access to Responsible Care Alliance (PARCA), a national coalition that represents the interests of millions of patients and non-MD/DO health care professionals. ACA was a founding member of PARCA, has held leadership positions and worked closely with its members over the years to advance the mission of ACA and the interest of chiropractic patients across the nation. PARCA members include consumer and provider groups and organizations whose members participate in Medicare, including nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physical therapists, optometrists, psychologists, social workers and other non-MD providers. ACA—the only widely recognized chiropractic association on Capitol Hill—is proud to partner with our PARCA colleagues to join together and advocate in Congress for our mutual legislative and regulatory goals.
As with anything in Washington, D.C., power resides in strange places. Together we are stronger than we are alone, and nowhere is that more evident than in the work and subsequent respect that PARCA has earned in the last three decades. Combining influence, expertise and resources has established a foundation for the successful advocacy of a number of ACA’s legislative goals. As the fight for Medicare parity continues, with the support of our coalition colleagues, we look forward to adding another legislative victory for our patients and all Americans.
Meghan O'Brien is ACA's associate director of federal government relations. She can be reached at email@example.com.