I’m not sure there’s anything more exciting for a government nerd than a trip to Washington, D.C. Especially one where you get to advocate for the incredible mission of the organization you work for. Last week I had the immense pleasure of traveling with a delegation from the Indiana Chamber to Capitol Hill for their annual fly-in. It was not only an opportunity to meet with the lawmakers representing our interests in Washington, express our concerns and needs, but also to connect with business leaders from all across the state of Indiana.
The trip began with an evening session in the Capitol Visitor’s Center with presentations from Representative Jim Banks, Representative Susan Brooks, Representative Jackie Walorski, and Representative Pete Visclosky. For many, the idea of sitting in a cold lecture room on a Wednesday evening conjures memories of boring college classes, it was a surreal opportunity for me. There I was being briefed on law and policy by those who are making those laws and polices—all nestled just a floor below that monumental Capitol dome.
Representative Susan Brooks, who represents northern Indianapolis and some of the donut counties surrounding Marion County (including my hometown) briefed us on healthcare. She shared exciting news that a bill she had drafted to provide funding for emergency preparedness had just passed out of the House of Representatives! She also touched on the opioid crisis that is crippling many towns and communities in Indiana. We look forward to working with her because she, along with our Representatives Larry Bucshon (IN) and Brett Guthrie (KY), serves on the Health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce committee.
After the briefing, there was a cocktail reception preceding the dinner. Anyone who knows what it’s like to be at a business function mingling along knows that it started off a little awkward, but soon everyone was talking and making important connections all over the state! I was even able to secure support from several local chambers for our signature Indiana legislation, the eNLC!
The dinner, watched over by towering marble statues of our founding fathers and shapers of our country was a wonderful example of bipartisan friendship. Senators Donnelly and Young both spoke about their efforts to work together, and retiring representative Luke Messer gave a stirring invocation. Senator Donnelly then joked that he’d like to hire Representative Messer as a consultant—despite the fact that Messer had run in the primary for Donnelly’s seat! And we had a special treat and drop in from our home state of Kentucky Leader McConnell dropped by during his busy schedule to give us an update on the workings of the Senate!
Let me tell you, I will never forget the next day. It was quite the historic day to be on Capitol Hill, because the Senator Judiciary Committee was holding hearings on Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Our first meeting was in the Hart Senate Building with Senator Joe Donnelly. The lobby and hallways were swarmed with protesters, but that did not stop us from having a productive meeting with the Senator’s legislative director, Andrew. Senator Donnelly serves on the special committee on aging and his staff was very interested in learning about the innovate measures we are taking to move upstream in the care continuum. I also learned that Andrew’s mother was a hospice social worker, so he has a special place in his heart for our mission.
One of my favorite meetings with our own Representative Trey Hollingsworth. Always a ball of energy, Representative Hollingsworth (who insists we call him Trey) gave me a high five and hopped up on his desk for our meeting. He is well aware of the wonderful work we do in Southern Indiana and our goals of innovating new fields of care to better serve our aging population.
After productive meetings with Representative Brooks and a drop in at Senator Young’s office it was time to hop back on a plane to Indiana (which was easier said than done I almost missed my connection and our flights were delayed so much I didn’t get home until 2:30am!). I was sad to go, because there is nothing like the feeling that you’re making a difference and the voice of your cause is being heard. Luckily, Gwen gets to go back this month to continue sharing our message with those that can shape the laws for better hospice and palliative care!