Name of Agency Pennsylvania Health Law Project
Fellow's Job Title Communications Fellow
Proposed Project Goal for the Fellowship
The Fellow will work on designing and implementing communications strategies to increase access to and improve healthcare. The Fellow (in concert with others) will contribute to PHLP’s success by: • Effectively framing issues • Describing problems in ways that are accessible and create demand for solutions • Making a strong public case for policy change and critiquing oppositions’ positions • Getting the right data and information to policymakers and stakeholders at the right time • Developing strategies for conveying timely information to stakeholders (e.g., websites, newsletters, social media, traditional media outlets) • Ensuring advocacy addresses the needs of the people who use the health care system
Address Corn Exchange Building, 123 Chestnut St., Suite 400, Philadelphia PA 19106
Number of Staff 11
Agency Mission The Pennsylvania Health Law Project (PHLP) is the only non-profit public interest law firm in the Commonwealth dedicated to increasing access to and improving health care. Founded in 1988, PHLP provides free legal assistance to eligible Pennsylvania families. Many are children, elderly or coping with disabilities. All face barriers to health care treatment that result in suffering and loss. We strive to make a difference in the lives of ordinary people unable to cut through legal, administrative or financial barriers to obtain needed health care. PHLP is recognized by government, health care providers, and other consumer advocates as an authority on publicly funded health insurance programs (e.g., Children’s Health Insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare). PHLP staff has been appointed to numerous state government task forces and committees. In June 2010, for example, PHLP was appointed to the Commonwealth’s Health Reform Implementation Advisory Committee. PHLP has offices in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. Current staff includes five attorneys, three paralegals, a physician, a special projects director and a project administrator. Six PHLP staff are in Philadelphia, including the executive director.
The Fellow’s Duties and Responsibilities
• Support PHLP staff in increasingly using existing media and communications—e.g., op-eds, press releases, and website writing—to support PHLP’s traditional advocacy strategies • Create PHLP tools and infrastructure to facilitate communications (e.g., lists of press contacts, style guides, and tracking systems) • Track, compile, and digest Pennsylvania-based press about health care issues to keep staff up-to-date; develop a newsletter to share these digests with other health advocates and the interested public • Work with staff to develop and maintain an online resource (i.e., blog or regularly updated news page) with regularly updated information and analysis about health care reforms and their implementation in Pennsylvania • Work with PHLP Helpline clients to learn more about outcomes and gather stories about consumers’ experiences with the health care system and PHLP’s services. Use communications tools—e.g., press, website, and publications—to share these stories where appropriate • Maintain and update PHLP’s website, www.phlp.org; post revised content and publications as needed; track site traffic • Increase PHLP’s online visibility through social media tools; integrate these tools with the site to disseminate new and relevant information about health care reforms and resources
The Skills/Qualifications a Fellow Should Have to Succeed in This Position
• Strong interest in and commitment to PHLP’s mission • Ability to work independently (e.g., define and manage tasks, set and meet deadlines, determine when to seek additional help and guidance) • Strong writing skills and an ability to write for a range of audiences • Computer skills, preferably the ability to help with website updates; experience working in digital media a plus • Public speaking, interview, and telephone outreach skills
The Community Need the Fellow Will Address
The enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the historic health care reform law, makes sweeping changes to our nation’s health care system that will significantly impact Pennsylvania residents, including hundreds of thousands in the Southeast. By providing affordable health insurance coverage to many more Pennsylvanians (currently more than one million are uninsured), the ACA will strengthen the financial stability of families and communicates, improve the sustainability of businesses, and begin to rectify an injustice that has long plagued our society. Pennsylvania, like other states, has substantial responsibility for putting major components of the law—such as Medicaid expansion, the creation of health insurance exchanges, and new market rules for health insurance—into effect. The Commonwealth will need to devote significant resources to enroll people in new and expanded state programs, and assist people in understanding their coverage options. While state policymakers have significant expertise, regular participation by advocates for consumers—e.g., PHLP—will ensure state decision making is grounded in clients’ experiences and needs.
How the Agency Addresses This Need, and How the New Capacity Created by This Fellow Will Help Alleviate the Problem
There are many decisions ahead that need the voice of consumers to ensure that implementation connects people with the health care services they need. The clear, strong voice of consumer advocates, like PHLP, will be essential, perhaps even more so than when the political debate over health reform was at “full-tilt.” The ability of a strong advocacy community to identify sources of problems is a resource that Pennsylvania needs. It is organizations like PHLP that are able to come to the Commonwealth and say, “this process is not working” or “this form is unintelligible” or “we have people speaking a language that you are not serving.” PHLP will regularly communicate about these issues and their resolutions through (1) newsletters, (2) digital media (e.g, website updates, podcasts, videos), and (3) in-person trainings and presentations. The Communications Fellow’s duties at PHLP will include creating and executing a variety of print and online communications to build timely public understanding of reform.
The Level of Community Involvement in the Fellow’s Project
The ability to use media and communications is essential to building and maintaining timely public support and countering misinformation. Getting the right data and information to policymakers and supporters at the right time is important. The addition of a Communications Fellow at PHLP will significantly expand this capacity. Instances of community involvement over the course of the fellowship will include but are not limited to: developing the “human face” of health reform by working with former PHLP clients to gather stories and foster dialogue about their experience with the health care system; and planning events and trainings with community organizations, like the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, which has a strong grasstops and grassroots network that culminated in a march from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. in support of health reform.
The Agency’s Plan for Training and Orientation
To successfully communicate PHLP’s role and work to the public, the Philly Fellow will need to have a thorough understanding of our work. Along with reading publications to familiarize herself with the relevant public health insurance programs and government structures, the Fellow will “shadow” Helpline staff as they work with clients, and attend meetings in Harrisburg and Philadelphia that are part of our policy advocacy and collaborative work with other organizations. The Fellow will take part in the PHLP’s training for direct service volunteers so that she understands how PHLP serves clients; this, however, is not to suggest that the Fellow will provide direct services. Seeing first-hand the issues that we address and how we address them will prepare the Fellow to execute the communications assignments.
Name and Title of Fellow’s Immediate Supervisor
Sarah Peterson, Project Administrator
Plans for Supervision of the Fellow
The Fellow will meet regularly with the Project Administrator (Sarah Peterson) and Project Manager (Ann Bacharach) to provide updates on her work and to receive feedback and support. The Fellow will also meet several times a week with the Director (Laval Miller-Wilson) to develop key communications products – e.g. press releases, publications, and client stories. There will be occasion, at least quarterly or more regularly if requested by the Fellow, for all the staff mentioned above to meet and review the Fellow’s work and learning experience.
Will Fellow Be Working at the Same Address Listed Above?
Will the Fellow Have Their Own…
Office? Fellow will share
Desk? Fellow will have their own
Computer? Fellow will have their own
Approximate Percentage of Time the Fellow Will Work….
As a Team Member in a Group Setting 30%
As a Team Leader in a Group Setting 10%
Will the Fellow Be Expected to Travel for the Position?
If So, How Often and Where?
PHLP is a statewide organization, headquartered in Philadelphia, with offices in Pittsburgh and Harrisburg. In collaboration with other organizations (e.g., state government, consumer advocate, provider) PHLP conducts trainings around the state. The Fellow will travel a few times a month within Philadelphia, and monthly outside of Philadelphia to attend or promote our trainings and meet with PHLP staff.
Will the Fellow Need the Following…
A Driver’s License? No
Their Own Car? No
1515 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102