Health Reform Rapid Response: the conversation on prevention
As Congress returns to D.C. this week, our Senators and Representatives face a daunting agenda–-resuming negotiations on longer-term extensions to the payroll tax, federal unemployment benefits, and to maintain Medicare reimbursement for physicians (the “doc fix”).
This is a great time to highlight successful community prevention work in your community, and a strong op-ed is an excellent vehicle for elevating your story.
This week, we highlight several successful op-eds to serve as examples as you pen your own opinion piece, and provide practical tips for getting your op-ed published.
Getting your Op-Ed Placed
- Keep it short and sharp. Opinion pieces usually run between 500-600 words. Make sure your piece gets to the heart of your message in the lead paragraph, and keep your message tight—focus on the solution, and paint a picture that describes why healthy communities matter. Here are the headline talking points:
- Prevention saves money and saves lives.
- Community prevention is evidence-based.
- Community prevention is local.
- The American people want prevention.
Prevention Institute has developed an entire range of communications tools and resources to help you frame your community prevention successes, including a sample op-ed.
- Make it relevant. What makes your opinion important and newsworthy? Has your community prevention effort changed health, saved money, fostered new coalitions or lifted up local voices? Is it an important new tool to address spiraling state or local health care costs, or to bring new business investments to your community? Is there new or important data your work connects to—such as the just released data on state costs related to unhealthy eating?
- Consider a co-author. A co-author offers a different point of view, and can enhance your organizations credibility. A business leader, faith leader, or community member can make your piece more publishable and more relatable to a broader audience.
- Submit online, then follow up with a call. It is fine to use the typical online submission form, but a phone call to the opinions editor will exponentially increase your chances of placing a piece. Call the main number, ask for the opinions editor and explain why your piece is timely, relevant and unique. Offer to edit or tweak your piece to garner placement. You can only submit an opinions piece to one venue at a time—tell them you’d like to hear back from them within a few days so that you can submit somewhere else if necessary.
What Success Looks Like
- The Hill featured Prevention Institute’s op-ed on proposed diversion of Prevention Fund dollars for the doc fix, “Docs won’t benefit from prevention cuts.” Our op-ed introduces framing showing how prevention and healthcare work hand in hand: “Public health is not separate from health care delivery. In fact, in a new national survey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 3 out of 4 physicians surveyed wished our current health care system would cover the costs of addressing their patients’ social needs.”
- On OregonLive.com, “Think bigger: Physical activity is about more than curbing obesity” spells out the many benefits of increasing opportunities for physical activity, underscoring the important role of government: “…when our communities invest in public programs either through the education system or directly, our children reap rewards far into their adult lives…Strong institutions and public infrastructure are necessary for physical, mental, and social health.”
- In the Seattle Times, “A mission to promote health and wellness,” faith leaders expound upon the importance of organizational practice change to advance their community’s health: “Churches are vital institutions where environments and policies can directly affect those who bear the heaviest burden of poor health…Church and community leaders cannot be complicit as our own children suffer the early impacts of chronic disease and companies benefit from the poor health of our members… Our hope is that these healthy norms and habits established in our churches will be reinforced at home.”
- In the Mail Tribune, “Farm-to-school is good for kids and the economy” highlights the importance of the school environment and supportive policies in shaping children’s health: “The overall school environment is fundamental to shaping children's health...What children are fed and what they are taught about where their food comes from affects how they learn, how they develop and how long they will live.”
- In The Austin Statesman, “Salud America working to combat obesity among Latino children,” Dr. Amelie Ramirez acknowledges that there is no single solution to increasing to improving the health of our children, “…that efforts to solve this issue must attack the epidemic on every front; from nutrition to physical activity to media and marketing. We each need to do our part to ensure that we're not the first generation of parents to outlive our children.”
What You Can Do