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Policy + Advocacy Partner Highlights

January 16, 2024

RMHF supports efforts to drive systemic changes in alignment with our Strategic Framework and that reflect an even deeper commitment to advancing health and racial equity, in relationship with our partners. That is why we first invested in policy and advocacy work, and why those investments continue to grow year after year.  We know this support is essential because it makes both short and long-term progress possible. 

With that in mind and with the 2024 General Assembly Session already underway, we would like to highlight several of our policy and advocacy partners who are doing important, equity-driven work across the Commonwealth: Legal Aid Justice Center, The Commonwealth Institute, Virginia Health Catalyst, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, and Voices for Virginia’s Children

We believe by sharing the advocacy efforts of our partners, we’re letting you know issues we care about too. And by connecting you with these partners, we know we can inspire action and bring our community even closer together.

While these brief descriptions do not contain the full length and breadth of each organization’s advocacy efforts, their agendas can be further explored on their websites, on social media, in publications, and more.

 

Healthcare

All six partner organizations include high-quality healthcare access and affordability in their advocacy efforts. 

  • The Legal Aid Justice Center will primarily focus on ensuring community access to critical safety net programs like Medicaid and addressing the problem of growing medical debt. 
  • The Commonwealth Institute’s “Collective Agenda for Virginia’s Future” focuses on improving health coverage access and affordability. Their plan includes a focus on removing barriers to children’s health coverage, and increasing support for Community Health Workers. TCI also supports increasing access to Paid Family and Medical Leave and Paid Sick Days. 
  • Virginia Health Catalyst is primarily focused on building, expanding, and supporting the Commonwealth’s healthcare workforce, and removing barriers to health coverage for children
  • Virginia Interfaith will continue to advocate for a requirement that all healthcare professionals who deal with pregnant women receive unconscious bias training. Additionally, they are supporting a bill to provide healthcare coverage for children who qualify for Medicaid but cannot receive it due to their documentation status.
  • The Virginia League for Planned Parenthood will spend the 2024 General Assembly focused on protecting access to essential, time-sensitive sexual and reproductive health care, with a central goal of enshrining reproductive freedom in the Virginia State Constitution. 
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children will be advocating for investments in school-based mental health services and increased health coverage for children, regardless of their immigration status.

 

Workforce and the Economy

There is also a significant focus on workforce and the economy across partner organizations. 

  • Legal Aid Justice Center will be pushing for changes in court fines and fees, which can trap lower-income individuals in a cycle of debt and impact their economic, professional, and personal futures. 
  • The Commonwealth Institute’s “Collective Agenda for Virginia’s Future” also addresses increasing economic opportunity, including raising the minimum wage. They are advocating to  reform state tax policy to help working families, including making the full state Earned Income Tax Credit refundable, creating a state Child Tax Credit and asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes.
  • Workforce is at the top of the advocacy list for Virginia Health Catalyst, whose major initiatives this year are centered on ensuring the Commonwealth’s healthcare workforce is able to meet the growing needs of all Virginians. This includes addressing worsening inequalities in care and the dramatic impact of a reduction in federal support. 
  • Virginia Interfaith will also be advocating for additional funds in the state budget to support Community Health Workers, who will be directly impacted by the end of COVID-19 emergency funding.
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children will champion economic security for all young people by pushing for a state-level child tax credit.

 

Public Education and Child Care

Our partner organizations will also be engaged in efforts during the General Assembly session to improve, support, and fund high-quality public education. 

  • Legal Aid Justice Center has adopted education as one of their main goals to ensure Virginia’s public school system is fully and equitably funded. 
  • The Commonwealth Institute, in their new agenda, calls for fully and fairly funding Virginia’s public schools.
  • Virginia Health Catalyst is approaching education support in a different way, advocating for improving the healthcare workforce through partnerships among safety net clinics and community colleges and increased funding for allied health training programs. 
  • Voices for Virginia’s Children will be advocating for increased funding and educator compensation, pushing for new investments to make Virginia’s early care and education systems more accessible and affordable for all families.
  • Virginia Interfaith will be supporting childcare subsidies and pushing for additional investments to help support working families, especially families with lower incomes.

 

In Their Own Words & How to Get Involved

Our partners have shared with us, in their own words, what their efforts could mean for the Commonwealth, and how you can engage in this important work. RMHF looks forward to continuing to support the work of these community organizations as part of our policy and advocacy work. These efforts and partnerships, when taken together, have the potential to transform our community and build a more just, more equitable future for all.

Legal Aid Justice Center: All of our issues are basic rights that can change the trajectory of someone’s life if they don’t have access to health coverage, an affordable and safe place to live, a fully funded, staffed and equitable school local school system for every child, and a criminal legal system that does not criminalize or tax poverty,” said Abbey Philips, the Policy Director at LAJC.

Get Involved:

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The Commonwealth Institute: “With so many new faces in the General Assembly, we have a rare opportunity to spark transformative change in Virginia,” says Freddy Mejia, Policy Director at TCI. “While ‘Collective Agenda’ does not encompass every state policy solution 

that would advance racial and economic justice, it does provide lawmakers with a critical starting point to keep the needs of our communities at the forefront…”

Get Involved:

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Virginia Health Catalyst: Virginia is facing a health care workforce crisis that is worsening health inequities,” said Catalyst’s Chief Executive Officer Sarah Bedard Holland. “Our priorities are intended to address inequities by better enabling evidence-based, prevention-focused care and supporting innovations in workforce recruitment and retention that will grow the workforce with an emphasis on prevention and public health.”

Get Involved:

  • Catalyst’s website
  • Share a story with Catalyst (or your legislator) that demonstrates the value of community-based care and connection
  • Raise these issues with your friends, family, and within your area of influence
  • Attend Catalyst’s lobby day on January 17th 
  • Write your delegate or senator to let them know you support Catalyst’s initiatives and share a story about why
  • Follow our updates and alerts by signing up for our newsletter by emailing here 
  • Read the Virginia Oral Health Workforce Gap Assessment for additional context on the health workforce crisis

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Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy: “Our team has dedicated significant time and effort to foster bipartisan collaboration and generate interest in our key initiatives,” said VICPP’s Executive Director Kim Bobo.“It’s crucial for us to make tangible strides for marginalized communities in Virginia.”

Get Involved:

  • VICPP’s website
  • Register for VICPP’s signature advocacy day, Day for All People on January 17
  • Register for VICPP’s Student Day of Action on February 9, the organization’s annual gathering at the state capitol for students and young professionals
  • Read all of VICPP’s policy priorities for the 2024 General Assembly Session

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Virginia League for Planned Parenthood: Virginia is stronger when we can all make decisions about our families, our health, and our futures,” said VLPP’s President & CEO Paulette McElwain. “When we ensure that everyone, regardless of income, can access affordable and high-quality reproductive health care, the health and well-being of our community — and our commonwealth — improves.”

Get Involved: 

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Voices for Virginia’s Children: “It is important that Virginians place young people at the center of our policy debates,” said Voices’ Chief Executive Officer Rachael Deane.” When we prioritize children and youth, we all reap the benefits. A thriving childhood and adolescence leads directly to better health outcomes, educational attainment, and prosperity over a lifetime.”

Get Involved:

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By connecting you with these partners, we know we can inspire action and bring our community even closer together.  Thank you for reading and getting involved!