Braving blustery March winds, an energetic contingent of ACCC members headed to Capitol Hill yesterday to speak up on behalf of access to quality cancer care in nearly 100 congressional meetings with their legislators, covering 44 unique house districts and 52 unique senate districts.
“I definitely felt like we were heard at both [of our] meetings,” said Robin Hearne, MS, RN, from The Outer Banks Hospital.
“I appreciated all the energy around trying to move cancer to the forefront with people who can vote on policy,” said Gina Moon, CFO, Green Bay Oncology, Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), on left, meeting with Susan Gallagher, DO, MBA, Chief Medical Officer, Cary Medical Center, Caribou, Maine.
New Jersey and New York contingent in a meeting with Stephen Lieberman, legislative correspondent for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), to discuss palliative care.
Some first-time Hill Day participants were surprised that the meetings were so individualized, and at the interest from legislators in hearing their stories and perspective from the front lines of cancer care delivery.
“Engaged, active listening,” is how Angela DeCillis, DNP, RN, NE-BC, from Newark Beth Israel, RWJ Barnabus Health System, described the conversations she had during the New Jersey delegations meetings.
At lunch ACCC members heard from Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY), sponsor of H.R. 1409 the Cancer Drug Parity Act of 2017; Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), co-sponsor along with Ted Poe (R-TX) of the bipartisan H.R. 5160 The Cancer Care Planning and Communications Act (CCPC); and Doug Lowy, Chief of the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology, National Cancer Institute, on the critical importance of consistent and continual funding for cancer research.
ACCC members advocating for The Palliative Care and Hospital Education and Training Act H.R. 1676/S. 693 were able to thank many of the co-sponsors in person for their support.
Taking time away from pressing schedules to spend a day on Capitol Hill is an investment, but the opportunity to speak directly with legislators on behalf of patients and cancer care services in districts and communities where their constituents live and work is well worth it, attendees agreed.
“I think the level of support that ACCC provides is really great for newbies like me . . . this has been a great opportunity to have a voice and be part of healthcare policy,” said Robin Hearne, MS, RN.
ACCC Capitol Hill Day kicks off the ACCC 44th Annual Meeting & Cancer Center Business Summit this week. Stay tuned for highlights from summit sessions.
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