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Advocacy vs. Lobbying- Understanding the Difference and the Importance

Nov 09, 2018

Grassroots advocacy and lobbying are not the same thing. Advocacy is generally defined as arguing in favor of a cause or idea. Advocacy is about having a conversation with leaders, legislators, and within communities. In our case, we participate in advocacy initiatives related to diabetes.

Lobbying is an effort to influence a politician or public official on an issue. Lobbying is about achieving a certain outcome. Oftentimes this takes the form of a vote or formal position. Advocacy and lobbying are different approaches to a common goal and both are important for diabetes educators.

Tell Me More

As diabetes educators, we are typically involved in “grassroots” advocacy. We look at ways to engage our peers, family, communities, and others who are personally impacted by our work. We plant seeds and awareness. It grows spontaneously and naturally, like the roots of stubborn grass.

Grassroots advocacy entails actions like contacting and building relationships with members of Congress, their staff, and/or local legislators. These efforts involve: 

  • Discussing/educating on a specific issue or piece of legislation
  • Expressing a view on that issue or legislation
  • Making a "hard ask" of a legislator. For example, asking them to cosponsor a piece of legislation.

What’s Happening in AADE Advocacy Now?

Learning about current legislative initiatives is the first step in getting more involved in advocacy. Below is a summary of federal and state legislative initiatives that diabetes educators have been working with AADE to advance.

Federal Initiatives: The Expanding Access to DSMT Act (HR 5768, S 3366). If passed, this legislation would:

  • Expand the list of practitioners who can refer for DSMT
  • Extend the initial 10 hours to remain available until fully utilized
    • allow six additional hours if the initial 10 are used
    • increase the number of subsequent hours per year from two to six
  • Allow DSMT and MNT to be provided on the same day/visit
  • Remove DMST services from Part B cost-sharing and deductible requirements
  • Clarify that hospital outpatient departments can provide DSMT in a community-based location

State Initiatives:  AADE members across the country have been involved in advocating on a variety of issues including:

  • Emergency refills of life-sustaining prescriptions, including insulin
  • Medicaid coverage of continuous glucose monitors (CGMs)
  • The prohibition of step therapy (or “fail first”) and non-medical switching

Why Should I be Involved?

Diabetes educators are responsible for advocating for people with diabetes, those who care for them and other diabetes educators. We work tirelessly to advance public policy that supports and advances the future of diabetes education, care and support. It is critical that diabetes educators speak with a collective voice to ensure that we are heard by legislators and policy makers.

How Can I Get Started?

One of the biggest challenges to becoming an advocate is knowing how and where to start. Below are some easy to access AADE resources that help to simplify the process:

  • AADE Legislative Action Center: Visit this page to learn more about AADE’s federal legislative initiatives and send a letter to your legislators through AADE’s easy online platform.
  • AADE Advocacy Forum (requires logging into My AADE Network): This page offers an opportunity for diabetes educators interested in advocacy to share updates, ask questions, and discuss issues with their peers and colleagues.
  • Register for the FREE December 4 Advocacy Webinar (1 CE): Hear from AADE’s Washington, DC consults from the firm Baker Donelson on the current status of the Expanding Access to DSMT bill in Congress, the outcome of the November 6 midterm elections and how this impacts diabetes policy, and what to expect as we start a new congress in January.

If you have questions and/or would like additional information on how to get involved, please contact AADE Advocacy Coordinator, Ashley Urisman at or AADE Advocacy Director, Kate Thomas

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