On May 20 and 21, 2019, diabetes educators from across the country convened in Washington, DC for AADE’s annual Public Policy Forum. This year’s program was especially exciting as it represented the first time since 2015 that AADE has hosted this event in Washington, DC. Being in Washington provided diabetes educators with the opportunity to directly engage with lawmakers and impact policy decisions on the federal level. We had over 35 states represented and close to 70 attendees, which allowed us to meet with about 120 congressional offices!
AADE’s primary focus for the 2019 Public Policy Forum was to build support for the Expanding Access to Diabetes Self-Management Training (DSMT) Act (H.R. 1840, S. 814). This legislation was introduced in March by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in the U.S. Senate and by Representatives Tom Reed (R-NY) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) in U.S. House of Representatives. The first day of the Public Policy Forum included extensive training and discussion on the Expanding Access to DSMT bill, how to discuss this issue with legislators, and tips on how to effectively meet with legislators. This training was especially important given that many attendees did not have prior experience in meeting with their legislators. AADE’s goal was to ensure that all attendees felt comfortable and prepared for their legislative meetings. The second day of the event was devoted to meeting with legislators, and diabetes educators spent a full day on Capitol Hill. After our meetings with legislators, we saw an increase in support for this legislation. Senators Stabenow (MI) and Coons (DE) and Representatives Watkins (KS), Delgado (NY) and Axne (IA), among others, added their names as cosponsors shortly after our meetings.
We received positive feedback from our Public Policy Forum attendees and have already begun our planning efforts for 2020. Our goal is to have representatives from all 50 states attend this meeting next year, which we hope to hold again in Washington, DC. To make this goal a reality, we need each state CB to identify an advocacy liaison or state grassroots coordinator (SGC) to stay connected on advocacy issues throughout the year. By identifying your SGC, we can ensure that each state CB receives the information regarding this important event and can be a part of the planning process. As an important reminder, you don’t have to be an advocacy “expert.” This event is intended for diabetes educators with all levels of advocacy experience and expertise. If you have not already done so, please contact Kate Thomas, AADE’s Director of Advocacy, and share the name of your SGC/advocacy liaison.