Using a new online format, opening every session to all members, and creating a thought-provoking set of sessions about the role of the RD in health policies drew a record number of ADA members to the 2009 Public Policy Workshop. Each year for the past three decades, PPW has brought roughly 500 nutrition "activists" to Washington for issues information and grassroots training. The online 2009 PPW had nearly 5,000 members register, with an overwhelming 71 percent getting their first exposure to ADA advocacy.
The online opening session was matched with a series of parties taking place across the nation. These events — held in homes, schools, community centers and health facilities — brought ADA members together to plan how ADA can meet its goal for every member of Congress to hear about the importance of nutrition in health and health care and to gain an appreciation that nutrition is the cornerstone of policies to make and keep Americans healthy. Teams of ADA members will be delivering those messages between now and Labor Day so that every legislator has talked at least three times with RDs and DTRs about including nutrition in health policies and health care reform.
The outcome of those visits is meant to help shape a better set of health policies and programs and to create a better health care system in the United States where nutrition care and services are valued.
As for the outcome of this meeting, a survey of members told us:
- 88 percent liked viewing PPW online.
- More than 90 percent said they came to understand ADA's policy messages as presented at the 2009 PPW and felt they could deliver them.
- More than 60 percent of those surveyed said they would visit federal lawmakers by the end of the summer and carry ADA's messages.
- Roughly 70 percent said PPW 2009 gave them a better understanding of legislative and regulatory processes and of congressional work.
- Roughly 80 percent said they have a better understanding of ADA's Political Action Committee and what it does.
- More than half of the respondents found added value in the regional parties held in conjunction with PPW. They said these events strengthened relationships within ADA and will benefit the dietetics community in their region.
PPW 2009 continues with additional online webinars planned throughout the remainder of the year. These webinars will cover legislative and regulatory matters that affect dietetics practice, techniques to build support for nutrition initiatives, support for affiliates to choose and manage their own advocacy agendas, and training for members to advance public recognition for food, nutrition and health and participate effectively.
Two of ADA's key issues for 2008 were successfully approved by Congress thanks to your effort and dedication.
The farm bill, passed in June 2008, included many initiatives ADA supports such as a food stamp pilot program that provides incentives to encourage recipients to make healthy food choices; a targeted and expanded fruit and vegetable snack program in elementary schools, and the reauthorization of the nutrition monitoring system. More than $10 billion was added to the nutrition title of the bill to accommodate rising prices and greater need for food assistance and accounts for the largest proportion of spending in the farm bill. The measure enhanced farmers' market programs, extension and nutrition education, and crafted ways for schools to choose to serve locally grown foods in their food service programs.
Medical Nutrition Therapy
In the Medicare bill passed in July 2008, ADA made a giant step towards its long-standing goal of getting MNT expanded for persons who are at risk for developing diabetes and other chronic diseases. Language was included that will provide for preventive services given an A or B rating by the US Preventive Task Force. Intensive nutrition counseling was given that rating by the USPTF. This legislation goes into effect in January 2009.