Virtually In Washington

The answer, of course, was NO.  A friend knows that I normally spend the last week of February each year in Washington DC and called to ask if I was packed and ready.  Nope.  We aren’t holding our annual meeting this year in person.  This year we are strictly virtual.  I am underwhelmed.

Our organization, The National Association of Health Underwriters, has done an excellent job in lining up relevant and interesting speakers.  We will meet, via Zoom, with our elected representatives and their legislative aides, and we will have a full agenda.  But it won’t be the same.  Worse, after January 6th, it may never be the same again.

One of the speakers will be Kurt Schrader (D-OR) who is leading the bipartisan fight for greater transparency in prescription drug pricing.  This is the opportunity to hear from the Congressmen who don’t spend every Sunday morning on the talk shows.  Last year we got to hear from the impressive Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and now retired Greg Walden (R-OR).  Good ideas aren’t limited to either party.  The Congressional speakers provide insight to the thinking and efforts that go into the process that creates legislation.

The most important part of this annual conference is still our meetings on Capitol Hill.  I look forward each year to my conversations with Senator Brown’s (D-OH) legislative aide, Abby Duggan.  She is knowledgeable and well-prepared.  I have also had the pleasure of meeting with a number of the men and women Ohio sends to the House of Representatives.  They welcome our visits because we bring focus to the issues that directly affect their constituents, our clients.  Insurance agents champion an end to Surprise Billing, resolution to Medicare’s hospital observation debacle, and transparency in prescription drug pricing not because it will aid us financially (no impact) but because our clients need our help.  We are in the position to report the real life impact of these issues.

Will this year’s visit make as much of an impression as 700 to 1000 of us paying our own way to Washington?  I don’t know.  But I know that we aren’t going to give up.  A client was kept in a hospital last month under observation status and charged $87 for maintenance medication that would have been covered had he been admitted.  It could have just as easily been $1,000.  Who is fighting for him if not us?

I won’t be wandering around the Halls of Congress next week and I won’t be popping into the Smithsonian during down time or hanging out at Shelly’s Back Room in the evening.  My goal is to still make the time meaningful.  Next year in Washington.


Picture – A Tangible Link – David L Cunix

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