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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Health Action Conference—A Look Back at the Last 20 Years

Patrick Willard

Senior Director of State and National Strategic Partnerships

When more than 300 advocates gathered at Families USA’s first annual health policy conference to discuss how to preserve and strengthen Medicaid, health reform was still a goal on the horizon. That was January 1996. Today, we’re gearing up for Families USA’s 20th Health Action Conference.

Like its predecessors, this year’s conference—which takes place January 22-24, 2015—will bring together advocates to share ideas, learn about health reform opportunities, and protect and promote Medicaid coverage for vulnerable Americans. Registration is now open.

Our inaugural conference focused on “protecting Medicaid for all who depend on it (now and in the future) and continuing our efforts to achieve affordable, universal health care.”

In the past 20 years, the conference has grown in size and standing. In 1996, staff from the Congressional House Minority Leader’s Office were the only political figures participating in the conference. Since then, Health Action has welcomed leaders of all stripes as speakers for its plenaries—including President Barack Obama.

Join us for Health Action 2015 to discuss the latest trends in Medicaid, enrollment efforts, and health system transformation

Health Action 2015 will include sessions on Medicaid and build on the foundation the Affordable Care Act set five years ago. The conference will include workshops on health system transformation efforts and addressing health equity in communities of color. We will promote enrollment efforts to increase health coverage for the uninsured.

Just as the landscape of health care reform differs today, so does technology and the ways we communicate with each other. The first conference welcome letter mentioned the availability of a computer lab at the hotel. “There you can explore computer networking, ‘e-mail,’ and the magic of the Internet for the first time.”

Health Action 2015 will move far beyond “e-mail” to more wide-ranging interactive technology, including its own conference app, Twitter hashtag of #HA20, Instagram and other social media. But it will also include the chance for old-fashioned networking through face-to-face conversations with health experts, public officials, and advocates from other states.


In 2007 then-Senator Barack Obama addressed Health Action at the Mayflower Hotel. Four years later he rejoined us for Health Action 2011, this time as President.

Stay tuned for updates and confirmed speakers for Health Action 2015

In the coming weeks, we will provide more information about the speakers and the agenda for this year’s conference. We’ve invited Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Orrin Hatch, and U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, and Rev. William Barber, leader of the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina. The conference will again be held at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill. By registering now, you’ll save $100. The fee increases to $550 after December 15, 2014, so sign up soon!

2015 will be a critical year to advance our health advocacy work in the states and in Washington. Health Action 2015 will be the gathering place for health advocates to prepare for the crucial work that lies ahead to build real progress. Join us to celebrate 20 conferences and to take the next steps as we work together toward truly affordable, high-quality health care for all.