Michael Fraser Discusses Goals for ASTHO's Leadership Week

March 02, 2017|2:32 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

With a busy and significant March ahead of us, ASTHO Executive Director Michael Fraser took a moment to answer a few questions about next week’s Hill Day, key messages ASTHO will be sharing with Congress and the administration, and what to expect during Leadership Week.

What is in store for members during the Leadership Week?

At its core, advocacy is about educating and informing. We plan to do just that when we meet next week with new leadership at HHS, as well as representatives from ASTHO partners at the Trust for America’s Health and the National Governors Association. In addition, we will present ASTHO’s 75th Anniversary kick-off event—a briefing on the power of state and territorial public health at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. Complementing these events, state and territorial health officers will have the opportunity to sit down and visit with their respective Congress members. Maintaining those relationships, both in Washington and back at home, is critical to sustaining the work of governmental public health.

What are some of the key messages ASTHO will be sharing with Congress and the administration?
This year’s Leadership Meeting is particularly important, given the very real possibility of severe cuts to state and territorial public health programs. We’re currently facing a potential double whammy: repeal without clear replacement of the Prevention and Public Health Fund, as well as anticipated FY18 budget cuts to non-defense discretionary programs. This could have a major impact on funding for state and territorial health agencies. When Congress members learn from leaders about the impact of funding cuts on their state’s public health capacity, they are more likely to think twice about cutting public health funding.

Why does ASTHO host an annual Hill Day in Washington, D.C.? 

While ASTHO’s government affairs staff are your full-time voice in our nation’s capital, that voice is amplified when state and territorial health officials and other health agency staff meet with, educate, and inform members of Congress on the impact of public health programs and important public health priorities. Pretty much every study of effective lobbying places in-person outreach as the most powerful advocacy technique. That is why next week’s Hill Day and Leadership Meeting, here in Washington, are so important. It is a chance for you to reach out and visit with your state or territory’s congressional delegation and share all of the great work you’re doing in way that we, as staff, cannot.