Day 2: Telling our stories

I am so impressed with all six of our families! All together, Children’s Hospital Boston met with a total of 15 congressional offices today. When you count the three substantive meetings Josh and I had yesterday, this is a total of 18 meetings – out of the total of 27 offices in our region, this is a fantastic rate. I had the pleasure of joining families for five of those meetings and loved hearing the families tell their stories and watching the legislators and their staff respond to them.

I went to all three Maine meetings. We had two families from Maine – Greg and Sebastien’s families – on the trip. One of the coolest things to me about the Maine meetings is that our families, who live in the first district of Maine, are represented in DC entirely by female Members of Congress. Girl power! We first went to the office of Rep. Chellie Pingree, who is a freshman Member of the House of Representatives. Mrs. Pingree met us briefly and then we spent a long time with her health care staffer talking about some of the points in health care reform that are important to us. Next, we traveled to the Senate side where we met with Senator Susan Collins. She spent a long time with us, heard the stories of both Maine families and gave us an update on health reform in the Senate.

Then it was time for lunch! I didn’t stay long at lunch because I left early with Bella’s family to see Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont, who also took the time to meet us personally and hear Bella’s story. From there, we were off to see Senator Patrick Leahy. He spent a lot of time with us, showing photos of his grandchildren while Bella and her brother visited his staff (which includes a juggler!).

The final meeting I attended was in the office of Senator Olympia Snowe. Senator Snowe was tied up in a Senators-only meeting about health reform, but her staff took great care of us and we know they will pass our message along to the Senator.

Two things stand out to me from the many meetings I attended. One is the level of attention that Members of Congress and their staff are giving to health reform right now. It is encouraging to see so much time devoted to this important topic, and to see Members take the time to hear about pediatric needs in the effort. The other thing that struck me was the concern that the offices – especially Collins and Sanders – had for some of the individual situations of our families. We came away from these offices with contacts for local caseworkers, who might be able to help our families cut through local red tape and that is really important.

The trip was so successful, that I don’t even mind that my plane home is delayed by two hours!

Amy

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