Case Studies/ Public Affairs – influencing public policy

Messages and Messengers Working Together: The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association

Slashing Medicaid costs was a key part of former Ohio Gov. Bob Taft’s strategy to address the state’s rapidly deteriorating fiscal climate. But any cut in Medicaid would prove disastrous to children’s hospitals. The Ohio Children’s Hospital Association faced a daunting challenge: its grassroots support systems had never been used. The successful campaign approach relied on mobilizing the children’s hospital boards, medical professionals, staff and volunteers to tell each of their hospitals’ stories. There was even a Web-based Action Center to support grassroots activation.

The campaign made a dramatic impact. The major daily newspapers in Akron, Cleveland and Dayton editorialized in support of the campaign; more than 50 newspapers and numerous TV and radio stations covered the issue. Nearly 300 advocates rallied at the Statehouse, met with legislators and attended a Government Advocacy Workshop. Parents, doctors and nurses sent more than 2,000 letters to legislators and the Governor, and hundreds more letters were handwritten by trustees.

Members of the Ohio General Assembly ignored the Governor’s recommendation and made restoring funding to children’s hospitals a top priority. Even Governor Taft was swayed and signed the Medicaid funding provisions of the budget into law. The National Association of Children’s Hospitals and Related Institutions cited the successful campaign as a national model for best practices in advocacy.