Health, healing and politics: Why we speak up

March 21, 2018 Ali Santore


I’m often asked why our organization has so much to say about public policy. After all, the thinking goes, we’re in the business of health and healing, not politics. My answer is always the same: it’s about the people we serve.

Providence St. Joseph Health exists to serve its many communities. Embedded in our mission is a call to serve those who are poor and vulnerable. Any one of us can become vulnerable when we are sick. Within communities there are also the forgotten, the marginalized, the suffering. Our founders were deeply moved by the many hardships they saw and became steadfast advocates on behalf of individuals, families and neighborhoods. Today we continue to be a voice for the voiceless.

Every day across seven states, our diverse family of organizations see and respond to a myriad of needs. Our hospitals and clinics often serve as safety nets, especially for those who depend on Medicaid and Medicare. We are not only clinicians, scientists, administrators, insurers and teachers. We are advocates on behalf of everyone we serve, especially those on the margins. That means when a law or rule is proposed that will have an impact on the people in our communities, we often will speak up.

When a congressional proposal meant millions of people were at risk of losing their health insurance with no other affordable option for care, we spoke up. And we invited our caregivers – all of our employees – to do the same. When nearly a million people are at risk of deportation because they were brought here as undocumented children, we will speak up, especially for those serving as caregivers in our organization. When children are the innocent victims of mass shootings and are brought to our hospitals, we are going to speak up.

Together, we can bring health, healing and restoration to our communities.

We have always been full participants in our communities, both in service and advocacy. This is not a time to be complacent, or to think that someone else is going to stand in the gap. We are here to care for the vulnerable and when needed to be their voice, guided by our advocacy agenda.

Read our 2018 Advocacy Agenda:


Our 2018 Advocacy Agenda

About the Author

Ali Santore

Ali Santore is vice president of government and public affairs for Providence St. Joseph Health, a multi-state, not-for-profit health system committed to improving the health of the communities it serves, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. With a diverse family of organizations, Providence St. Joseph Health employs more than 111,000 caregivers (all employees) who serve in 50 hospitals, 829 clinics, two health plans and hundreds of programs and services in Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington. In her role, Ali leads advocacy and public affairs for Providence St. Joseph Health, which includes managing government affairs operations across seven states and in Washington, D.C. Her national advocacy and engagement strategies have successfully advanced federal priorities that preserve and expand access to care for the underserved, positioning PSJH as a leading advocate for mental health, advance care planning, and the Medicaid program. Prior to her work at Providence St. Joseph Health, Ali advocated for Providence Health & Services as a vice president with CFM Strategic Communications, a federal lobbying firm based in Portland, Ore, and Washington, D.C. Earlier in her career she served as a legislative assistant to Sen. Gordon H. Smith and as professional staff to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging during Sen. Smith’s tenure as both chairman and ranking member. In 2016, Ali was honored to receive national recognition from the Catholic Health Association as a recipient of the Tomorrow’s Leader award. More recently she was awarded the Oregon State Society’s 2017 Webfoot Award in recognition of her service to the volunteer organization and her role in national politics during the last 10 years. A graduate of the University of Oregon with degrees in political science and philosophy, Ali is a guest lecturer at the George Washington University Milken School for Public Health. Her professional associations include membership in the Washington D.C. Society of Young Professionals, and service on the board of the Oregon State Society. Ali lives in Alexandria, Va. with her husband and two young daughters.

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