How do you activate patients to encourage Congress to support life-saving legislation?
A loose coalition of health care interests was formed to add screening for abdominal aortic aneurysms to the “Welcome to Medicare” physical. However, there was low understanding of the deadly impact of aortic aneurysm and few patients lived to tell their story after rupture. Therefore, there was a limited constituency. For lawmakers to support legislative changes, they needed to hear from both constituents and the medical community. Ogilvy PR launched a grassroots campaign to identify patients and their families at screening events and enlist their support to help persuade Members of Congress to support the proposed legislation. Ogilvy PR branded the coalition - the National Aneurysm Alliance - with an identity and built and launched an interactive Web site that served as a vehicle for both AAA disease awareness and advocacy for legislation. People were driven to the Web site through an 800 number, post card mailings and media outreach. On the Web site, they could join the Alliance, download information, email a friend, sign a petition or send a message to their lawmaker in support of the legislation. In 2004, Ogilvy PR supported a press conference to introduce the legislation that highlighted efforts of the Alliance and where patients and loved ones of those who fell victim to AAA told their stories. Alliance members used materials prepared by Ogilvy PR to press the case with Members of Congress. NAA materials were disseminated at screenings across the country, creating a web of grassroots support for the SAAAVE Act. Language from the Act was included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, allowing for the screening as part of the “Welcome to Medicare” physical as of Jan. 1, 2007.