Association works with Polsinelli to advance social work policy in U.S.
NASW is strengthening its government relations strategies for the 114th Congress by teaming up with an award-winning, full-service government relations law firm that prides itself on strong bipartisan relationships in the executive and legislative branches.
The association is working with Polsinelli law firm to energize social work’s policy muscle throughout the U.S., said Heidi McIntosh, NASW’s deputy director of programs.
“The Polsinelli team includes former members of Congress, former in-house counsel of national health care institutions, the Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as well as former assistant U.S. attorneys,” McIntosh said. “They have offices across the country and they have experts on staff that focus on key issues important to social work.”
Polsinelli recently performed a 90-day assessment of NASW’s federal advocacy efforts through interviews, focus groups, surveys and a webinar with NASW chapters. They found that top issues for NASW stakeholders and members include reimbursement rates; strengthening the role of social workers in the health and human services workforce; integration of the Affordable Care Act; social and economic justice issues; and student loan forgiveness.
“We’ve reached out internally and to members and they told us that these are the issues that are important to them,” McIntosh said.
The report notes that NASW’s membership —132,000-plus members across the U.S. — is powerful tool that shows lawmakers and policy leaders the association has representation in each congressional district, said Joan Levy Zlotnik, director of the NASW Social Work Policy Institute.
“Polsinelli also recently spoke with the NASW Council of Chapter Executive Directors and explained how NASW can better position itself in policy and regulatory relationships both nationally and through its chapters,” Zlotnik said.
NASW members represent a strong pool to pull from in terms of communicating personal stories and expressing the positive impact of social work, Polsinelli explained in its report.
“To that end, we want members to know that we’re ready to hit the ground running for the 114th Congress and we encourage members to join the NASW advocacy Listserv to keep up to date on our legislative activities” McIntosh said. “Our policy work is not just going to happen here in Washington. It’s important to note that every member is an advocate for social work.”
In outreach to policymakers, the Polsinelli report notes that lawmakers view social workers as problem-solvers.
“In fact, some even preferred to hire social workers to be their district/state office caseworkers due to social workers skill at addressing constituent needs,” the report states.
To help build on this positive understanding, the report suggests that congressional staff, members and agency officials need more education about the critical roles social workers play in the workforce and the significant impact they have on the nation’s well-being.
To aid in that effort, policymakers suggest NASW promote more personalized stories, produce state and district fact sheets, list its top priorities, and increase its outreach by being active and visible on issues vital to social workers and their clients.
U.S. News & World Report recognized Polsinelli as the Law Firm of the Year in health care law for 2015.
In 2014, the American Health Lawyers Association ranked Polsinelli as the second-largest health care practice, and Modern Healthcare ranked it the third-largest health care practice.
“The industry is seeing tremendous change, and our clients’ roles are becoming increasingly complex,” Polsinelli Health Care Practice Chairman Matthew Murer said in statement. “Polsinelli has responded by building a strong and diverse team of more than 190 health care attorneys and professionals across the country who understand their clients’ businesses and immerse themselves in this evolving and challenging industry.”