Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (KAHSA)

Challenge:

During the 2010 legislative session, two key policies surfaced that deeply affected the aging care community in Kansas: A proposed 10% cut to the Medicaid reimbursement rate; combined with a proposed nursing home bed tax. The Kansas Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, a member organization representing not-for-profit aging care facilities across the state, needed to respond quickly and powerfully to this crisis, and set themselves apart by putting a human face on complex and abstract finance issues. KAHSA’s grassroots work to date had been limited and episodic, and they recognized the need to bring it to the next level. KAHSA hired grassroots solutions to help craft a high impact grassroots organizing and mobilization program that would address current legislative threats while simultaneously building a base of support for the long-term.

Solution:

grassroots solutions worked with KAHSA to build a grassroots campaign plan focused on identifying and galvanizing supporters who could speak out against the bed tax. The grassroots program was informed by careful targeting of key legislators, and designed to create a permanent grassroots infrastructure of “Senior Advocacy Councils” across the state that could be leveraged not only now, but into the future. grassroots solutions recruited a field organizer to focus exclusively on grassroots organizing and mobilizing throughout the session, and designed a rigorous paid phone program that connected constituents who were opposed to the bed tax directly with legislators. These activities were enhanced by grassroots letters to the editor in local papers, and were continuously adjusted based on information being gathered by the direct lobbying team.

Results:

  • Established 13 Senior Advocacy Councils across the state and identified 264 new supporters.
  • Mobilized 1,016 supporters to contact their legislators with regard to the proposed nursing home bed tax; yielding 460 letters, 779 phone calls and 19 letters to the editor.
  • Through grassroots pressure, forced the governor and secretary of aging to the table to negotiate the terms of the nursing home bed tax.
  • Successfully negotiated several amendments to the nursing home bed tax bill to mitigate the negative effect on aging Kansans.
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