Meetings with Your Local, State, and Federal Elected Officials

Two weeks ago, a large group representing providers, patients, manufacturers, advocates, and others took to lobbying for the day in Washington, D.C. For some, it was a first-time experience while others have done it so many times they’ve lost count.

Like any worthy endeavor, it takes planning, resources, time, and a stick-to-itiveness to see results. We know our cause is right and just. The protection of CRT accessories pricing and the initiative to create a separate benefit category for complex rehab technology are the goals. Bills have been sponsored, and now the legwork of lobbying to bring the importance of these two bills to the forefront by gaining co-sponsors that will demonstrate support by signature was our mission.

The planning and coordination of our time there could not have been any better and kudos to all that made that happen. Follow-ups with the health legislative aids (HLA) are key to remind the senator or member of the House that unless we act and pass the bill on or before June 30, it will be too late. The impact will be negative for those who depend on CRT accessories, and the cuts are now so deep that most providers will not be able, nor willing, to provide services. Access will be negatively impacted once again to the detriment of all the people who rely on complex chairs for their independence.

The importance now is in the follow-up phone calls and being positive and flexible yet persistent! Most of us have learned to always exchange cards and ask for a photo at the end of the meeting. When I email the HLA a warm thank you soon after the meeting, I also attach the photo. Be reminded that each personal meeting, be it with an aid or member of Congress, is the best opportunity to demonstrate a united constituency.

The follow-up reminds them of just that, as well as the passion and knowledge exhibited for the cause.  We now are gaining data through our Functional Mobility Assessment tool, which will show statistical evidence supporting quality complex rehab and validate the importance of the ATP. Eventually we will be able to use this data in combination with our lobbying efforts.

It is hard work and we need to remind ourselves the reason we are doing this. Ultimately, it is for the rights of people with physical disabilities who rely on these individually configured chairs and the necessary components (I never liked the word accessories as it implies it is an add-on luxury item) to live the highest quality, healthy and independent life possible, maximizing abilities and minimizing disabilities.

The fight will go on, and I hope you all are a part of speaking with your elected officials on an on-going basis to build rapport and educate them on CRT. It is also helpful to remember that they are elected officials, and they do work for us.

Ron Turzy
National Vice President of Complex Rehab Technology, U.S. Rehab