Improving People’s Lives on Capitol Hill
On a lovely spring day in 1989 I boarded a bus with my 5th grade class for a field trip to Washington, DC. I grew up about 3½ hours south of DC, so a field trip to our Nation's Capital was a rite of passage. Our student teacher Mr. Wills was the chaperone charged with educating my group of friends during our eight hours touring the hallowed grounds of the National Mall. I vividly remember being in awe of how large the statue of President Abraham Lincoln was inside his memorial, at the beauty of the collection of First Ladies' inaugural ball dresses in the National Museum of American History, and the level of intensity on the faces of everyone in business suits walking around the US Capitol Building. As we paused for a moment for Mr. Wills to deliver a brief social studies lesson, I couldn't help but wonder what really went on inside the office and meeting rooms in that building.
Fast forward nearly 26 years from that spring day, there I was inside the US Senate and House of Representatives buildings lobbying congressional staff members to gain support for legislation that is vital to lives of my friends, colleagues, and former clients who need access to complex rehabilitation technology. So what made me transition from that wide-eyed 5th grader with killer '80s bangs standing on the outside looking in, to a passionate professional armed with knowledge ready to make a difference in our nation's government? To put it simply, a lot.
Like most professionals in our industry, I have a strong desire to improve the lives of each client I encounter. This includes the client's family and treatment team. One of the best parts of my job is seeing the look on an individual's face as he explores his environment independently for the first time thanks to the use of complex rehabilitation technology equipment, such as a power wheelchair with a custom seating system he can drive via a specialty input devices. Having the opportunity to work with product development teams to design such innovative equipment, educating consumers on the availability of technology, training professionals on how to recommend the most medically appropriate piece or pieces of equipment for a client, and assisting a client with implementing the technology into his life are all important pieces of the puzzle. However, those are not the only pieces. One major element relates to the access to the appropriate equipment with the financial support of third party payers, such as Medicare.
Over the years funding for healthcare in general has become tighter. This has significantly impacted the ability for a relatively small number of individuals who utilize complex rehabilitation technology to have access to the equipment they require to live healthy and active lives. All too often I hear of people all over the country who are not able to get the equipment they need due to difficulties encountered in the funding process. As an advocate and educator, I strive to stay up to date on the latest information in our industry and pass that knowledge on to end users, caregivers, clinicians, suppliers, manufacturers, etc.
Last month I joined nearly 200 end users, clinicians, rehab technology suppliers, and manufacturers just outside out of Washington, DC for the National CRT Leadership and Advocacy Conference. The annual three-day event is presented by the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers (www.nrrts.org) and the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (www.ncart.us). The first two days of the event consisted of educational sessions targeted at current issues impacting all of the stakeholders in the world of complex rehab technology.
On the third day attendees met in small groups and headed to Capitol Hill to visit over 260 congressional offices to discuss the importance of consumers having access to complex rehabilitation technology. During the meetings, conference participants reviewed the proposed legislation, the impact of complex rehabilitation technology on the individuals who need it, and asked if the member of congress to commit to signing on as cosponsor of House Bill HR-1516 or Senate Bill S-1013. It was such a powerful day!
While everyone who participated in this event put forth a tremendous effort to make a change and let the voices of people who utilize complex rehab technology be heard, the work is not over. In fact one of the congressional staff members I had the opportunity to meet candidly shared that in order for the legislators to hear our cause we would need our voice to be much louder meaning significantly more constituents who are impacted by this cause need to contact their members of Congress.
Speaking as a passionate advocate for individuals who utilize complex rehab technology, I am asking all of you to join the cause and take action. What can you do?
Visit www.access2CRT.com to learn more
Follow NCART, NRRTS, RESNA, and the Clinicians Task Force (www.clinicianstaskforce.us) on social media
Participate in the Call to Action requests as they occur
Commit to attending the conference in 2016. Next year NCART and NRRTS are teaming up with RESNA to host a collaborative event in the Washington, DC Area.
Check out this video of images from the event created by NRRTS
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Always remember at the end of the day, your client is your number one priority!
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Posted by: Date: 5/14/2015 12:00:00 AM
Filed under: Angie