Thoughts on Local Sausage-making and DC:

I spent an evening walking from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol Building last week. Although the classic reference about legislation is “sausage-making” and something you don’t want to watch, I found the area by the capital buildings an especially peaceful spot to stop and admire the view of the reflecting pools projecting the mirrored image of our illuminated Capitol after a busy couple of days in DC. Despite all of the negative coverage about modern politics, the fact is that those working in DC are amazing, intelligent people. I couldn’t help but to be inspired by the promise that is the United States.

The AAHPM Public Policy committee held its second DC fly- in last week which proved a great chance to see DC in action. I was especially impressed by AAHPM’s policy team and its lobbying colleagues who are working hard to help represent all of us in Hospice and Palliative Care.

Perhaps you are thinking, the budget is a mess, health care reform is too controversial, and nothing can come of a DC visit?

To be honest, so did I. But I was wrong. The connections made this trip matter.

Sausage making in the Sinclair Lewis era was a disgusting mess and high risk, and I suppose that is why it was an apt metaphor for policy-making. Well, today I know my sausage makers, Patchwork Farms. They farm near me and I get their wares at my grocery. I know them and trust that what they produce is Missouri locally-raised pork that is high quality and raised in such a manner that is safe for my community.

And this is what is needed of you. You need to know your legislative representative and senators. (You can find them and e-mail them directly via AAHPM’s Legislative Action Center.)

Ask to meet them in your home town. Meet their health care aides.

And what do you say?

  1. Tell them who you are
  2. Explain what Palliative Medicine is. (I told the story of a rural gentleman that didn’t quality for hospice, but needed a good symptom control plan to help him achieve his key goal of avoiding hospitalization, and as a result he was able to go fishing and be at home when death came)
  3. Offer to be a resource for them locally
  4. Ask for support for the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (read more about PCHETA here)
  5. Let them know of the bills that AAHPM supports (see link to AAHPM policy committee here)
  6. Make plans to stay in contact

Shouldn’t you know who is writing the laws that will determine the future of Hospice and Palliative Medicine and let your relationship help guide those future laws?

But do stay on target. Make sure you review the AAHPM policy site before your meeting, and if you get a question that you can’t answer just say so and promise to get back to them with an answer.