By: Heather Ferguson, Founder and Executive Director of The Lymphedema Advocacy Group, Charlotte, NC
The Lymphedema Advocacy Group’s 2014 Lymphedema Lobby Days took place on September 8th and 9th. 85 patient advocates from 24 states, plus the District of Columbia, came together in DC to educate Congress about lymphedema and raise support for the Lymphedema Treatment Act (HR 3877).
Advocates met with about 150 individual offices over two days. These meetings were scheduled in advance and included both Senate offices for each participating state, plus all or some of the House offices from those states.
They gave information to all Senate and nearly all House offices with which we did not have a scheduled meeting. At these “drop-ins” our advocates were sometimes lucky to be granted an unplanned meeting, which are not included in the meeting total above. It is great to think that we reached almost all 535 congressional offices on our biggest and best trip to date!
One of the highlights of our two days on the Hill was our Congressional Briefing on Tuesday the 9th. All of our nearly 40 participating patients, ranging in age from 9 to 71, took part in the briefing to stand for the “face of lymphedema.”
In the week following the close of our 2014 Lymphedema Lobby Days, we gained an additional 13 cosponsors as a result of our visit to DC! Surely there will be even more to come, as House offices continue to think over the information they have received.
We were delighted with the level of interest from Senate offices too. Our bill has not yet been introduced in the Senate. We are in contact with several of the offices regarding their interest in introducing our bill. This is a process that will take some time, but our goal is to have active bills in both the House and Senate during the next Congress, which begins in January 2015.
This trip really showed the importance of direct communication from the voting public. I cannot stress enough how important it is that you contact your state senators and representatives! Please write to, call, and schedule meetings with your members of Congress. Many tools to assist you with this are available through our website, www.LymphedemaTreatmentAct.org
You can make a difference by letting your members of Congress know how important this legislation is to you. Thank you for your support of the Lymphedema Treatment Act!
info [at] lymphedematreatmentact.org