Case Study: Grassroots campaign saves Medicaid access

Case Study: Grassroots campaign saves Medicaid access

Case Study: Grassroots campaign saves Medicaid access


Columbia United Providers (CUP), Washington’s third largest Medicaid health plan, has provided coverage to patients in the state’s “Healthy Options” Medicaid managed care program since the state launched the program 18 years ago. CUP’s unique relationships with providers resulted in patients having access to doctors that would otherwise not take Medicaid patients. When the Health Care Authority terminated CUP’s Medicaid contract on January 17, 2012, the company turned to Wilson Strategic.


WSC launched an immediate, multi-faceted public affairs campaign within one week. The community, media, and legislators were mobilized in the following ways:

  1. An issue website – – updated frequently during the legislative session which became the base camp for a sophisticated social media and email campaign
  2. Weekly coordination among allied organizations with messaging, talking point distribution and political activation
  3. Media outreach resulting in multiple stories in The Columbian, PSBJ, on KOIN-TV, NPR, and industry news sites
  4. An advertising campaign to generate public interest in multiple print media outlets, and which relied on grassroots, community participation generated through online sources
  5. Organizing and mobilizing provider groups supportive of CUP, leading to legislative outreach, in-person lobbying, and direct communications to legislators from executive level staff in Pierce, King and Clark Counties
  6. A lobbying effort which quickly lined up legislative support for CUP’s position, resulting in language being adopted in the final 2012 budget at CUP’s request


CUP received unanimous legislative support, by both Democrats and Republicans in the Washington state House and Senate, facilitating CUP’s proposed language. Community recognition of the CUP brand and role in local health care was reenergized. Overall, the result of this public affairs outreach effort was overwhelming legislative and community resources for CUP.

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