As some of you know, I went to Washington DC as part of Neurology on the Hill with the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). They sponsor a two day event where neurologists from all over the country (all of your neurologists are eligible to apply for this program which unfortunately take us away from clinic for two days) and we get a half-day of training followed by a day of visiting Capitol Hill and speaking to our legislators. We divide ourselves up by state and we try to get the message across that neurologic issues are important and research funding can really help our patients (their constituents).
What strikes me about this advocacy program is that:
- 1) Washington is run by twenty year-olds; and
- 2) They are very smart and truly want to fix the healthcare problem we all face;
But, there is no magic fix (just like there is no magic pill for MS) and they cannot work alone. So on this trip (it was my second to DC for this purpose), I tried to impress upon them that the front-line of medical care was here to help.
The front-line is: a) The patient; b) The care-partner; and c) The physician (or nurse practitioner or physician's assistant).
In my city we hold monthly MS Town Hall meetings and we discuss the issues facing all Americans; Safety/security, Health, and Education (SHE).
These meetings are nice and all, but unless they have an effect on our legislators, then we cannot get anywhere... but we can't go nowhere, so we need to move forward, and we need to move now!
So what can you do?
You can visit, write, email, fax, VISIT, VISIT, VISIT your legislators. The more they hear from you and others, the more they can do their job - which is to listen to the people.
Your legislators have a great deal of influence on various aspects of your lives and you need to build a reciprocal relationship with them. Yes, this does take time, but it is worth it, as it allows them to understand what we, the people, need.
If you would like to get more involved in advocacy and lobbying, you can either (a) contact your local National MS Society (NMSS) Chapter and ask about the MS Society trip to Washington DC in May of this year and how you may be able to get all expenses paid for, including training on how to advocate; or (b) email MSTAR.MSPN@gmail.com and we can try to coordinate advocacy efforts.
Published On: March 20, 2008