On April 8, New Jersey Society for Respiratory Care (NJSRC) Political Advocacy Contact Team (PACT) members NJSRC President Bob Guardabasco, Delegate Daryl Rogers and Board Member Steve Viton arrived in Washington to attend the Annual American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC) “Hill Day”. This annual event is a culmination of two months of preparation. Commencing in February with telephone calls, and emails to congressional offices to establish contact with office schedulers to access legislative aids to schedule meeting on April 9. The committee spent hours on the telephone and emailing the congressional office for conformation of the appointments. The committee managed to schedule meetings with 42% of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation.
200 Advocates sent over 900 messages to Congress
This year there were two main “asks” centered on telehealth and liquid oxygen this year.
First, asking House members to cosponsor the Better Respiration through Expanding Access to Tele-Health Act – otherwise known as the BREATHE Act when it is introduced. This is a three-year pilot designed to demonstrate the value that telehealth RTs can add to the Medicare program for beneficiaries suffering from COPD.
Second, to ensure continuity of care for home oxygen patients during Medicare’s 18-24-month suspension of the competitive bidding program, which is underway now. The ask is for members of Congress to sign a letter directed at the Medicare Administrator directing the Medicare program to monitor patient access to liquid oxygen for those whose lives depend on it and report its findings to Congress.
Prior to the committee members leaving for Washington, we all participated in the AARC Virtual Lobby Campaign (VLC). The VLC asked respiratory therapists, students, patients and friends of the profession to contact their congressional members and express their concerns on the “asks.”
The NJSRC Board of Directors would like to thank the 171 respiratory therapists, 11 students, 6 patients and 12 friends that sent in over 900 messages to Congress in the weeks leading up to “Hill Day”.
Prior to the visits, the AARC hosted a legislative briefing on the state of respiratory care. Briefly, the other important issues that were discussed during the meeting include that the association strongly opposes the inclusion of ventilators under competitive bidding process. Additionally, the association supports legislation that will improve access to pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation, funding to implement the COPD National Action Plan, and the Allergy and Asthma program funding.
The NJSRC Political Advocacy Contact Teamwork is only just beginning. If you are interested in shaping the future of Respiratory Care in New Jersey and across the country contact us now and join the effort.