Volunteers who have signed up to join the Advocacy Network joined an invitation-only training webinar to learn about an issue impacting families and individuals across the country: surprise bills.

The presentation was the first of a series of advocacy training webinars scheduled for the upcoming year, according to Director of State Advocacy and Alliance Development, Shaina Smith. “We’re really trying to develop and offer resources that will improve the lives of people with chronic illness through education,” Smith explains. “The more we learn as a community, the greater chance we will have at successfully moving patient-friendly policies forward.”

Advocates in attendance learned startling statistics relating to surprise medical bills, or the balance owed following a medical service because a provider or specialty service was out-of-network. Draft legislation at the federal level was also explained during the training. Smith also shared real patient stories, incidences where surprise billing caused financial burden to those who received care at an in-network hospital.

Smith adds that one objective of the Advocacy Network is to increase engagement among those who have offered to volunteer their time towards enhancing patient rights, safety, and overall quality of life.

“The Advocacy Network is truly what you make of it; you can take a survey here and there, submit a letter to lawmakers, attend trainings, build your confidence level to attend in-person hearings, or even just sharing social media posts to boost the content’s outreach to policymakers,” Smith says. “Taking that first step by signing up as an advocate immediately opens up the door to invaluable resources and toolkits, all crafted to meet the organization’s mission. Advocacy is really not a scary, large commitment. You’re in the driver’s seat and we help you navigate down your pain journey, equipping you with information and support to become the patient advocate you would like to be.”

Upcoming training webinars will include topics like advocacy 101 (similar to a mini advocacy summit), the use of social media for advocacy efforts, biologics and biosimilars, abuse deterrent formulations and other patient-focused policy topics.

Sign up today to become an advocate for U.S. Pain and begin receiving exclusive invitations to the free training webinars. If you are are already signed up as an advocate, you can view the password-protected recording here.