The value of access to legislators cannot be understated, and a strong political action committee (PAC) provides such access. NEMPAC was a co-chair of a May 19, 2017, fundraiser for Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), held in Lake County, Illinois. Our role as co-chair provided us access to all three stages of the event.
- First was a closed event for the co-chairs only, with Speaker Ryan and 15 others in a boardroom for 45 minutes. Co-chairs represented a very broad range of business interests, including health care. Health care and taxes were the key topics discussed. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) had just been passed by the House and was awaiting consideration by the Senate.
- The second stage was a reception with Speaker Ryan and several Republican Illinois House members: Congressmen Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood, Peter Roskam, and John Shimkus. In total, there were about 60 attendees.
- Finally, there was a dinner with the Speaker and the House members, along with about 45 people. This was set up in a square with active discussion and an invitation to participate, all facilitated by Speaker Ryan.
In the first meeting, we covered the AHCA, and I individually spoke to Speaker Ryan about the prudent layperson standard controversy in Missouri and the importance of emergency services as essential health benefits in any health care plan. He was aware of these issues as ACEP’s Washington, D.C., staff had already briefed his staff.
In the second and third meetings, I was able to discuss the importance of coverage and Medicaid and also the opioid crisis, including our solutions such as the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) program.
I was proud to serve and represent our membership and specialty. However, access comes before an opportunity to influence. I was impressed by NEMPACs ability to gain access at a high level with such high impact. I was impressed that Speaker Ryan was very familiar with the prudent layperson standard issues in Missouri. Although there are many important issues raised by many constituents, our outstanding D.C. staff and our strong voice of many, represented by NEMPAC, make today’s issues of emergency medicine the priorities of Washington lawmakers.
September issue: Jon Mark Hirshon, MD, MPH, PhD, FACEP, bends the ear of U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD).