Thomas Jefferson once said: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
 
It’s true: We have to participate in shaping the issues that define our country — and we have to advocate for our field. This civic responsibility goes all the way back to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In fact, Article I of the Bill of Rights clearly states that: Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people peacefully to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. It’s as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie.
 
Advocacy comes in many forms, from working directly with Congress by providing issue briefings, testifying in hearings, and commenting on draft legislation; providing key data and information to legislators; serving as teachers and educators to lawmakers and their staffs; working with regulators in key departments and agencies; building grassroots coalitions; and being involved in the political process. Advocacy is hard work, but the good news is we have a not-so-secret weapon: You, our member hospital and health system leaders and trustees.
 
You are leaders in your communities. You are the experts on health care. And when you speak up, your senators and representatives listen. The doors in Washington are always open to us because of what we do, what we represent, and who we serve.
 
Here's another way to look at it: When there’s an issue before them dealing with our field and you don’t speak up, they’re going to think you’ve given them the green light to do whatever they choose. Your voice matters.
 
How can you get involved? Watch for our action alerts on key issues before Congress and the regulatory bodies. Make plans to attend next year’s AHA Annual Meeting and consider attending a future advocacy day in D.C., where we bring members to Capitol Hill to tell their stories.
 
Thank you for serving as cornerstones of care in your communities. Thank you for being our partners in advocating for our field and our patients. And thank you for working so hard to advance health in America.

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