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LSRC President Connects with Members of Congress

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September 16, 2013

The first week in September was a busy one for Raymond Pisani, BS, RRT-NPS, president of the Louisiana Society for Respiratory Care (LSRC). Alone or with colleagues he met with one of his Senators and two Representatives to ask for their support for HR 2619, the Medicare Respiratory Therapist Access Act.

“A conference call was held with Tom Kallstrom (AARC CEO) and Cheryl West (AARC director of government affairs) to discuss HR 2619 and the approach the AARC wanted to take in contacting the physicians serving in Congress and the information that was to be relayed to them,” explains Pisani. 

Working with the AARC leaders, he and the LSRC delegates, PACT members, and legislative chair developed a package of information to send to the Louisiana members of Congress – including two physicians -- and a blast email went out to LSRC members asking them to set up meetings or attend their members’ town hall events. Pisani then met with both physician representatives, along with Sen. David Vitter (R-LA).

“Sen. Vitter happen to be hosting a Town Hall Meeting at Teche Regional Medical Center, which is my employer,” says the AARC member. He contacted the Senator’s office and asked if he might have a few moments of his time before the meeting started.

Since Pisani had already met with the Senator back in April, the meet-and-greet went smoothly. “He remembered me from our previous meeting, and I informed him he will continue to see me whenever he is hosting these meetings.”

His attempts to make a similar connection with Rep. Charles Boustany, MD (R-LA), were a little more challenging. The Congressman was pressed for time during his town hall meeting, so even though Pisani showed up an hour early, he didn’t get a chance for a face-to-face before the event started.

However, he was pleasantly surprised at the end of the meeting when Rep. Boustany made it a point to speak to him, despite the fact that he had a call back to Washington awaiting.

“As soon as he left the podium, he came directly to me and said, ‘I know you need to speak to me,’” says Pisani. “He was very pleasant and listen to everything I had to say and agreed that Medicare needed to be looked at and this bill was interesting to him.”

Pisani had no problem scheduling a meeting with Rep. Bill Cassidy, MD (R-LA), prior to his town hall event. This time he was joined by Sheila Guidry, LSRC delegate, Doug McIntrye, from the AARC board of directors, and a number of other RTs and RT students from the state.

“Dr. Cassidy was very receptive and remembered speaking to me at another event,” says Pisani. “His district campaign manager also approached me during the meeting and asked if we want him to co-sponsor the bill.” Pisani told the manager that he and all of the RTs the Congressman represents would “greatly appreciate it and would be honored.”

Pisani says Sen. Vitter and Rep. Boustany noted that they are interested in the bill as well, and would be consulting with their health issue staffers about offering their support and/or a co-sponsorship. 

Your members of Congress will be back home in their districts Sept. 23–27 and Oct. 14–18, so consider taking the time to schedule meetings with them to ask for their support for HR 2619. As the LSRC experience illustrates, coming face-to-face with your elected officials isn’t as hard as it sounds–and the effort you make may just provide the boost the bill needs to get through Congress.