Help Wanted: SIM soliciting consumers, advocates and providers for next round of workgroups

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SIM is recruiting consumers, advocates and providers for workgroups to implement the administration’s health reform plan. SIM has been criticized for excluding critical stakeholders, especially consumers and advocates, in developing the original reform plan that is to cover at least 80% of all state residents in five years with a controversial payment model.  Advocates are concerned that consumers will not receive independent support to ensure their interests are protected as a minority in workgroups with sophisticated insurance and other health care industry representatives. Advocates are also concerned that qualifications for consumers and advocates require agreement to support the already finalized SIM plan that included little stakeholder input and to further support the, as-yet-undecided recommendations of the workgroups. In a meeting called by SIM staff, advocates recommended that consumers make up a majority of workgroup members and that consumers choose their representatives (rather than the administration or their appointees). Neither recommendation was adopted or even discussed by the SIM steering committee. Despite this, it is critical that independent consumers and advocates apply for appointment. Independent consumer advocates are working on developing outside, independent resources to support those members with unbiased, full information on health policy options and effective advocacy. Applications are being accepted until March 19th.