An opportunity to join the health care policy discussion through social networking

As I’ve mentioned before, the Obama Administration is the first intenet administration and is using the internet strategies of their successful election campaign to open up public input. The Washington Post this morning has an article about how they’re using social netsworking strategies to get input about health care reform. The article is “Obama Policymakers Turn to Campaign Tools Network of Supporters Tapped on Health-Care Issues.”

Former senator Thomas A. Daschle, Obama’s point person on health care, launched an effort to create political momentum yesterday in a conference call with 1,000 invited supporters culled from 10,000 who had expressed interest in health issues, promising it would be the first of many opportunities for Americans to weigh in.

The health-care mobilization taking shape before Obama even takes office will include online videos, blogs and e-mail alerts as well as traditional public forums. Already, several thousand people have posted comments on health on the Obama transition Web site.

“We’ll have some exciting news about town halls, we’ll have some outreach efforts in December,” Daschle said during the call. And tomorrow, when he appears at a health-care summit with Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) in Denver, Daschle said, “we’ll be making some announcements there.”

It is the first attempt by the Obama team to harness its vast and sophisticated grass-roots network to shape public policy. Although the president-elect is a long way from crafting actual legislation, he promised during the campaign to make the twin challenge of controlling health-care costs and expanding coverage a top priority in his first term.

Given that the ACS has thousands of staff and hundreds of thousands of volunteers, isn’t it time to utilize the social networking strategies that David Neff has spelled out in dozens of posts to influence the policy process over the next couple of years?