In a run up to the AARC’s Virtual Lobby Week and Capitol Hill Day, state societies in California and Kansas have been converging on their state capitol buildings to educate lawmakers on issues important to their patients and to lobby for respiratory care issues.
California Hosts Legislative Advocacy Day
The California Society for Respiratory Care (CSRC) hosted its second annual Legislative Advocacy Day in Sacramento on Feb. 1.
“Well over 100 CSRC members and colleagues attended this very important exercise of our rights as California respiratory care professionals and citizens of the United States,” says CSRC President Michael Madison, MBA, RRT, RCP. Before the members headed out to visit their state legislative offices, Sen. Richard Pan, MD, addressed the group and shared some of his experiences representing California’s 6th Senate District.
The prearranged appointments with legislators gave California therapists the chance to educate them on the bills the CSRC will be endorsing and sponsoring during this legislative session.
CSRC President Michael Madison (right) awards Sen. Jim Nielsen with CSRC Legislator of the Year award.
Sen. Jim Nielsen, of the 4th District and author of SB 525, which will clarify aspects of the respiratory care practice act, was named the CSRC Legislator of the Year.
“Our time in Sacramento was both very exciting and quite successful as we continue to promote our profession in California as well as leading our profession nationally with a prime example of what it means to be a proactive respiratory care professional,” says Madison.
“We also offer our special thanks to the team at Aaron Read & Associates, who helped us organize this event and who scheduled so many face-to-face meetings with our legislators. They helped make this second annual CSRC Legislative Day event another resounding success.”
Kansas’ Long-Running History
The Kansas Respiratory Care Society (KRCS) traveled to Topeka on March 16, a trip RTs from the Sunflower State have been making since the 1980s. “I have been participating as far back as when I was a student in an RT program in 1987, and I believe they started going to the capital a few years earlier when they were trying to get our licensure law before the legislature,” says Karen Schell, DHSc, RRT-NPS, RPFT. “The personal connections that we have made have been helpful many times as issues have come up in the state that we need to address as a profession.”
KRCS members make sure to visit every legislative office in the building.
This year’s event featured a display in the capitol building rotunda and visits to every legislative office. “We go to every office and invite staff down to the display and leave an informational flyer with information about our profession and any specific bills or issues we are or are not supporting,” says Schell. “The staff is really good about letting us know where to catch legislators if they are not available when we stop by and they send the legislators down to our booth as well.”
Schell says she and her colleagues research legislation coming before the legislature before they make the trip so they’ll know what issues they want to address with their elected officials and they also take time to visit with other people in the building lobbying for other issues that day. “There are different patient advocacy groups and coalitions we have been asked to join as a result of our visits. This helps us make connections for promoting and advocating for our patients.”
They often get the chance to provide a little respiratory education as well. This year a couple of senators who suffer from asthma came by the booth and the RTs on hand were able to provide them with some much-needed tips on understanding and managing their condition.
“The day is always very positive and we go away energized and pumped up to move forward,” says Schell.
Let your Voice be Heard for Respiratory Care
Want to learn more about legislative issues affecting the future of respiratory care? Join our webcast on March 29, where we will be providing an overview of telehealth and its current practice in the United States as well as a review of the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act – specifically as it relates to RTs – and a discussion of the ways in which RTs will be able to practice and advocate via telehealth. The webcast is free for members and you will earn 1 CRCE.