Representative Allyson Schwarz (D-Pa.) held a Healthcare Legislative Update at the 2009 Annual Scientific Meeting in Philadelphia, held in October. Rep. Schwartz spoke to a group of rheumatology professionals about the different healthcare proposals currently before Congress. As a key member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Schwartz gave an insider’s view of the healthcare reform debate going on in the House. She was interested in the perspective of the rheumatology community and took questions from the audience. Members of the audience asked the Representative about issues important to rheumatologists, such as access to care, elimination of the sustainable growth rate formula, and medical liability reform.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2009
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Representative Schwarz closed her speech by reminding the group to contact their legislators about health policy decisions, saying, “There is nothing more powerful to a member of Congress than the voice of his or her own constituents.”
After Rep. Schwartz’s speech, ACR Government Affairs Committee members Deborah A. McCloskey, RN, BSN, and Ed Herzig, MD, spoke about the importance of becoming active in the ACR’s advocacy efforts. McCloskey spoke about her experiences attending the ACR’s annual Advocates for Arthritis event, and Dr. Herzig spoke about building relationships with members of Congress and the importance of RheumPAC.
Both McCloskey and Dr. Herzig have learned that advocacy can come in many simple and effective forms. You can join the ACR advocacy efforts by:
Applying for Advocates for Arthritis
Advocates for Arthritis was created to engage ACR/ARHP members and patient advocates in political advocacy and increase awareness of rheumatology issues on Capitol Hill. Participants meet with members of Congress and staff to discuss current legislative issues that affect the rheumatology community. The event is also an opportunity for the ACR/ARHP to establish valuable relationships with both legislators and staff. Additionally, it is a beneficial networking opportunity for members to discuss the issues affecting their practices and patients. The 2010 event will be held March 15–16, and interested advocates can apply to attend at www.rheumatology.org/advocacy.
Building Relationships with Members of Congress
It’s not as hard as you might think to build relationships with lawmakers. Start by: Meeting face-to-face. An in-person meeting is a valuable tool in building relationships with your legislators. You can organize a meeting in your district or in Washington, D.C. with your member of Congress. Make sure you make an appointment and have a specific set of issues to discuss and a position on each issue.