We have lots of news to share this month about person-centered care advocacy for people with complex health and social needs. We ended April with a bittersweet celebration of the life and legacy of Rob Restuccia, the founding executive director of Community Catalyst, that was attended by almost 800 people. Community Catalyst co-hosted the evening with our partners at Health Care for All, Massachusetts, and together we released a video that tells the story of Rob’s role in the birth and ongoing effectiveness of both organizations. The video features comments from many Center friends, including Vinny DeMarco of Maryland Citizens’ Health Initiative and Elena Hung of Little Lobbyists. It was wonderful that so many friends and colleagues were with us at the event, in person and in spirit.

We released a new report authored by Project Manager for State Advocacy Andi Mullin, called “IMPACT!,” about the ways in which consumer engagement has improved health care programs and policies. The report shows how advocates in Alabama, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Tennessee have improved beneficiary communications, processes for consumer engagement and health care policies. They’ve addressed everything from challenges related to an enrollment broker, making advisory committee meetings more accessible and welcoming to consumers, and improving transportation services.

We are also thrilled to announce a new program, Consumer Voices for Innovation 2.0. “CVI 2.0” supports advocacy organizations in seven states (Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania) working to build an engaged base of consumers to advocate for policies and programs that expand how the health care sector addresses the social and economic drivers of health, specifically housing security, food security and transportation. This program connects grassroots organizing and consumer leadership development to achieving policy and program change. With this program, we aim to identify and support the development of over 125 new consumer leaders over two years. This program builds upon our highly successful original CVI program, which reached tens of thousands of individuals with complex health and social needs and engaged them to build opportunities for meaningful consumer engagement in delivery reform initiatives. 

CVI 2.0 is part of our strategy for achieving ambitious policy goals for 2019 and 2020, related to consumer engagement and social determinants of health. Thanks to our Strategic Policy Manager, Danielle Garrett, we’ve developed our policy priorities for 2019-2020, which emphasize consumer engagement, social determinants of health, better care for individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, primary care and long-term care. We welcome your feedback on our goals, as well as opportunities to partner with you.

Finally, in honor of Older Americans Month, this month’s Eldercare Voices column features Byllye Avery, who partners with Community Catalyst’s Women’s Health Program to coordinate the Raising Women’s Voices national initiative, and is founder of the Black Women’s Health Imperative (formerly National Black Women’s Health Project). Ms. Avery discusses the health-related challenges facing older Black women in the U.S. and what it will take to make progress in addressing them. We were honored to host Ms. Avery recently in our Boston offices, where she shared her decades of insight on how to most effectively form meaningful partnerships for action with organizations of, and led by, people of color.