Go to the state Capitol. Hobnob for a while with decision-makers. Come back home with some much-needed public policy changes. If only politics were that easy.
The first step to piquing state lawmakers’ interest is defining who you are and how you are important to the public’s interest, according to legislators.
With the help of local Assemblymember Anthony Portantino, City of Hope did just that by recently hosting its first informational panel for legislative staff in the state Capitol.
|Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa|
The “Cutting-Edge Cancer Treatment: Implications for Health Care Policy” panel in late July highlighted advances in cancer treatment, including personalized medicine, and featured Richard Jove, Ph.D., director of Beckman Research Institute, Kimlin Tam Ashing-Giwa, Ph.D., director of City of Hope’s Center of Community Alliance for Research and Education, and patient Vicki Schwarz, a member of City of Hope’s Speakers Bureau.
The three spoke to a large crowd of staffers from legislative offices. Schwarz began with her story of cancer survival and an overview of the cancer treatment she received at City of Hope. She also discussed the importance of City of Hope’s model of quality of care.
Her moving story led in to Jove’s explanation of the science behind cancer and the future of treatment. His explanations shed light on the role of state government in research and care.
“California is a leading research state, but to stay on top, lawmakers should look at the gaps in federal funding and seriously consider if the state could step in and make a difference,” Jove said. “With a proactive approach, California stands to gain the benefits that come with big discoveries.”
Jove raised critical policy concerns. “Treating cancer patients is expensive, and the state needs to have a serious discussion over fair access to quality and emerging treatments,” he said. “The state may face scrutiny over the ethical questions surrounding whether its emergency insurance plans impede access to the latest treatments.”
Ashing-Giwa then addressed questions about health disparities and access to care.
“Access to quality care and the continuum of care are special problems for cancer patients that most policymakers haven’t fully begun to explore,” Ashing-Giwa said. “Fortunately, City of Hope has a department collecting and deciphering data that lawmakers may use when grappling with policy. We are prepared to help them understand where the gaps exist and how these gaps directly affect patient and population outcomes.”
City of Hope experts hope that legislators will increasingly turn to them for expertise on health-care issues. The institution’s leaders hope the budding relationships will help policymakers better support health care in the state.