Need a lobbyist? Academy’s State Advocacy Grant program helps you fund it

The Academy's State Advocacy Grant Program provides financial assistance to state dermatology societies for the advancement of their health policy initiatives, including state lobbying expenses. The deadline for grant applications is Sept. 30, 2017.

Member to Member recently interviewed Jill Allbritton, MD, on how the grant program helped the Maryland Dermatologic Society advocate for a ban on indoor tanning for minors.

Member to Member: How did you get involved in advocacy efforts at the state level?

Allbriton-300.pngDr. Allbritton: I became more active in advocacy when I became an officer in the Maryland Dermatologic Society. In my role, I became more aware of what was going on in terms of legislation and the impact it has on our specialty.

MTM: Why did you apply for an Academy State Advocacy Grant for your state society?

Dr. Allbritton: I was president of the society when we first applied for the grant. Our society wanted to ban indoor tanning for minors in the state. We felt that if we had money to hire a lobbyist we’d have more success in achieving our goal. We did hire a lobbyist with the grant and she’s been phenomenal. We wouldn’t have been as successful in our efforts if we didn’t have a lobbyist.

We received our first grant about four years ago and have received funding every year since then.

MTM: How has the grant helped your advocacy efforts?

Dr. Allbritton: The first year we had a lobbyist, we supported an indoor tanning bill in the state legislature, but that didn’t get passed. But since then we’ve focused more on a county level, and that’s been very successful. An indoor tanning ban for minors has passed in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and we also have ongoing relationships with Baltimore city and Baltimore Country.

Now we have an indoor tanning ban in three counties in Maryland. Before our efforts, only one country had a ban.

MTM: Do you credit the Academy’s State Advocacy Grant in your successful efforts to ban indoor tanning for minors?

Dr. Allbritton:I don’t think we could have done it without the grant to pay the lobbyist. Our society doesn’t have the manpower or the time to do all the legwork and make all the connections. All of the dermatologist who are working on advocacy are also working fulltime as physicians. The lobbyist has personal connections that we don’t have.

MTM: How difficult was it to apply for the grant?

Dr. Allbritton: Our state society has a manager who applied for the grant. He didn’t have any problems. It was an easy process. The Academy helps facilitate the process so if you run into any issues, they’ll step in and make sure you get your questions answered.

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