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Thursday, December 21, 2017

What Does Health Action 2018 Mean to You? One Advocate’s Perspective

Raven Gomez

Campaigns Assistant

Health Action 2018: Staying Strong for America’s Families will be Mina Schultz’s fourth Health Action conference. Mina, who is currently a Master’s student studying Health Policy and an Outreach Specialist with Get Covered NYC, has a real passion for health care. Whether it was her personal fight against cancer at age 25, or helping others to enroll in coverage as a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) in West Virginia, Mina has tirelessly fought for her coverage and the coverage of many others.

Mina Schultz
"You don’t even know what you don’t know, and that’s what I really like about this conference."
Mina Schultz

Mina’s dedication to health care is so prominent that it inspired her to start a crowdsourcing page to help her get to the Health Action Conference this year. Due to her own organizational restrictions, she wouldn’t have been able to attend the conference without assistance from others. Fortunately, due to the massive influx of support that was received, we are happy to report Mina will be an attendee at Health Action!

I spoke to Mina about what Health Action means to her, what she’s looking most forward to this year, and what keeps her coming back to the conference year after year. 

Families USA: Why do you think it’s important for young people to get engaged in advocacy, especially early in their career?

Mina Schultz: Younger people and older people have really different perspectives, and it adds more diversity to the mix and ideas and finding ways of doing things. I think there’s so much to learn, especially at this conference. You don’t even know what you don’t know, and that’s what I really like about this conference. You guys have workshops that I would never even think of and it’s fantastic!

Families USA: Do you feel that Health Action has helped you become a more effective advocate?

Mina Schultz: Oh, absolutely! I think one of the big things besides the education is the motivation. It’s definitely a refresher, especially when it comes right after open enrollment ends. You’re kind of tired, usually there are problems at the end of open enrollment and that’s frustrating, so it’s nice to be in a group of people who have seen the same things, had the same issues and successes, and kind of pump each other up to get through the slow season. So, that’s really the best part of it. But then you know too, my employer this year is depending on me to bring back information because I’m the only one going to this from Get Covered, so you know I’m going to be taking copious amounts of notes to be able to bring back all of the outreach information I can!

Families USA: What does conference as a whole mean to you and the work that you do? Why do you find it valuable?

Mina Schultz: The wealth of information that’s provided from so many different sources. Especially since a lot of the workshops are led by people on the ground actually doing this. I know there are assister workshops that are led by program managers of some of the biggest projects in the country. So seeing what they’re doing, and what they’re doing successfully, lets me bring it back. There are big differences between red and blues states, and rural and urban, so I get a lot of really good ideas—that being said, the networking is also wonderful. You see all these people on various webinars and assister discussion groups, and meeting those people in person is really cool. It’s just really nice to meet other people who do what you do. Given most people don’t even know who their local CAC or navigator is, seeing all these people who are like, ‘Oh yeah, I had that problem with the marketplace last week’, and they actually know what you’re talking about.

Families USA: Do you have a favorite workshop, speaker, or moment you’ve had at Health Action?

Mina Schultz: The speakers are amazing. Reverend Barber spoke last year and I didn’t even know who he was, and he just pumped that crowd up like you wouldn’t believe! I have recordings of it on my phone still. He was an incredible speaker. And Andy Slavitt was there last year, too. My friends and I gave him whoops and hollers when he came on stage. That was amazing. He’s an idol of mine, so that was huge. The speakers are fantastic, just the top, top-notch people in the field of all different walks of life. Faith communities, policy communities, and both ends of the political spectrum are represented so you get a good range of ideas, which is just amazing. In terms of workshops, I think A View from the Hill is really helpful in order to know what’s going on. It’s kind of like a behind the scenes thing that I really like.

Families USA: What keeps you coming back to conference every year?

Mina Schultz: I don’t want to say it’s like a party, but it is like a party. It’s actually the same week as my birthday this year, so it’s my birthday present to get to go and see all the awesome speakers that you guys are going to have, and just get all the information I can. Being in New York now, I’m really missing all of my West Virginia colleagues, and it sounds like a couple of them are going to make it to the conference as well, so it’ll be really, really good to see them and catch up.

Families USA: What are you most looking forward to this year, and is there something in particular that you look forward to every year?

Mina Schultz: I think the speakers are what I’m looking forward to. I mean you guys don’t even confirm all of the speakers until the last minute, but I know they’re going to be good. I just really look forward to hearing people who know this stuff and get us pumped up again. It’s been a long, hard road this last year, and I think now more than ever this is really needed; just to come together as advocates working for the same goal, to have had some time together, and some peace almost amongst each other and like-minded folks.

At the Health Action Conference, you’ll be able to connect with amazing advocates like Mina, gain valuable insights to take back to your organization, and hear from leaders in the field who will motivate you to keep fighting for health care.

Registration is open, and the early bird rate has been extended through January 5. Check out the agenda, and register now before spots fill up!

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