Does one voice on Capitol Hill matter?
When you are a North Dakota delegation of one, stepping off a loaded bus amidst a parking lot filled with loaded buses, you have to wonder. This was me, in late March, merging with my hospice colleagues into the steady stream of dark business suits, brief cases, rapid paces and protesters headed toward the Supreme Court on the sidewalks of The Hill.
Armed with pertinent information from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, I entered the offices of Congressman Rick Berg and Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad to plead our hospice case.
In spite of all the political and health care-specific turmoil, I was not surprised to be well-received. The hospice mission, after all, touches so many lives. I had the privilege of meeting with the remarkably bright and informed staff people who carry health care portfolios for their respective congressmen. These people are a vital link between us and the congressmen, who—being human—must rely on at least some help to keep pertinent issues in front of them. The time, attentiveness, substantive dialogue and, in one instance, tears from these individuals assured me that hospice matters to them and to our congressmen.
This is no time to ask Congress for more money. Wisely, this was not the purpose behind hospice representatives storming The Hill in late March. Rather, we were collectively asking for some grace and common sense in how the future of hospice is approached in health care reform, as inevitable change occurs. This is a message congressmen can get behind—and I believe they will.
Still, I was a voice of one. So, rather than telling you about some particularly unusual protests occurring on the Capitol lawn, describing the exquisite tulip beds on the grounds, or even getting into the details of our hospice “asks,” I am inviting you to raise YOUR voice on behalf of hospice care in America. Your voice, you see, is not only added to mine, it is more important than mine. Certainly, people on The Hill expect to hear from me; it is part of my job. But, YOU? You truly are the constituents from whom our congressmen want to hear. Do YOU value hospice care? Has it touched YOU or people for whom YOU care? Is the service important enough to protect into the future? Are rural residents as deserving of hospice care as those in our larger communities? If so, SPEAK UP!
Your voice has probably never mattered more to the hospice movement as it does right now. Changes in health care have to be made. Certainly, all of us as consumers realize this. Hospice of the Red River has been proactively making organizational changes for years, recognizing the inevitable. But unreasonable, unfunded mandates and disproportionate rate cuts will bring us to our knees. All we ask is for common sense and grace. And then, our collective passion for the hospice mission will survive the present turmoil. Just some common sense and a little grace.
I invite you to learn more about the HELP Hospice Act. Or, to learn more about what you can do to help, visit the Hospice Action Network. For more information about Hospice of the Red River Valley, visit our website or call 1-800-237-4629.
Please, raise your voice in support of hospice care. You WILL be heard—your voice matters!
About Hospice of the Red River Valley
Hospice of the Red River Valley is an independent, not-for-profit hospice serving all, or portions of, 29 counties in North Dakota and Minnesota. Hospice care is intensive comfort care that alleviates pain and suffering, enhancing the quality of life for patients with life-limiting illnesses and their loved ones by addressing their medical, emotional, spiritual and grief needs. For more information, call toll free 800-237-4629, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hrrv.org.