Friday, August 10, 2012

Hospice Advocacy Efforts - August Offers Some Opportunity

Bobbe Donsbach, a patient care coordinator, attended—making the long trip from Lewistown, Montana. Amanda Dunnem, a hospice aide from Buchanan, Michigan, also attended, as did David Isom, a hospice director from St. George, Utah, and Carrie Landau, an RN case manager from Tucson, Arizona. There were 180 attendees in all, and 75 percent of them were hospice staff and caregivers who provide care at the bedside.

The event was the Advocacy Intensive held here in Washington on June 18 and 19. It was a strategic effort, organized by NHPCO and HAN, to cut through the noise and get our message heard on Capitol Hill during this particularly vocal election year.

Our goal was to convene a small but diverse group who could share the stories of hospice care that would resonate beyond the usual rhetoric. And as I shared in last month’s NewsLine message, we could not have asked for better representation.

The attendees met with 250 Congressional offices, including influential members of the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee. Both the hospice staff and many members of Congress came away from these meetings knowing more—and eager to do more.

 Among the most significant was the meeting between Bobbe Donsbach and Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chair of the Senate Finance Committee. It was the first time that Senator Baucus met directly with a member of the hospice IDG in his Capitol Hill office, and  quite telling that he spent a half hour with just one constituent.

While this event was clearly a success, the month of August is an opportune time for all members of the hospice community to build on that success. Members of Congress will be in their home states and many will be quite willing to visit the hospices in their area. This is vitally important because seeing is believing.

If you are intimidated or hesitant about reaching out, please don’t be! Just as HAN staff supported the attendees of the Intensive, they are also here to support you. As a start, please see the resources they’ve developed—Free Basic Advocacy Training, Tip Sheets, an In-district Advocacy Toolkit, and more. You can then email them with specific questions.

 Please join us in this advocacy work!