DEVELOPING RELATIONSHIPS ON CAPITOL HILL
By Sarah Milberg, LLS Senior Manager, Federal Affairs | April, 2018
As the voice for all blood cancer patients, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) establishes and grows meaningful relationships with policymakers
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is committed to removing barriers to care for blood cancer patients, and works with federal and state legislators to advocate for policies to ensure patients have access to quality, affordable care and treatments they need.
Here’s an inside look at how we cultivate these key connections:
Recently, members of LLS’s Texas Gulf Coast Chapter Board of Trustees and LLS volunteers from the Houston area met with Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX-08) to share their stories, discuss their commitment to LLS and continue a conversation about policy solutions to address barriers many cancer patients face in accessing their treatments.
The Board of Trustees is an active group of professionals who volunteer their time to help LLS at the highest level. In addition to providing strategic guidance, financial oversight and fundraising support to chapters, trustees serve as local ambassadors to LLS, promote events in the area and help mobilize supporters in their communities.
Congressman Brady chairs the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees the Medicare program and a number of other healthcare areas. The discussion with Congressman Brady was the latest in a series of meetings and events in Houston and Washington, D.C. that have been instrumental in growing LLS’s relationships with influential policymakers like this.
Last June, LLS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Gwen Nichols had the opportunity to meet with Congressman Brady in his Capitol Hill office. The meeting covered a wide range of issues, from LLS’s efforts on the Beat AML® Master Clinical Trial to policy initiatives to address high out-of-pocket prescription costs for cancer patients in the Medicare Part D program. Dr. Nichols and Congressman Brady had a deeply substantive conversation about LLS’s work, and Congressman Brady expressed support for addressing the Medicare Part D issues we identified.
Following the June meeting, Congressman Brady joined the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter at the 2017 Montgomery County Light The Night Walk in October. Congressman Brady has participated in Light The Night for 15 years. As he addressed the crowd, he encouraged attendees to become advocates to help advance policy solutions for cancer patients.
The LLS Texas Gulf Coast Chapter was again able to build on its relationship with Congressman Brady by inviting him to a special gathering to of its Board of Trustees in February. While Congressman Brady was not able to attend in-person, a staff member from his district office joined and heard about each Trustee’s commitment to the LLS mission.
After the gathering of Trustees in February, Congressman Brady’s office reached out to LLS to schedule an in-person meeting in Houston. During the meeting, Congressman Brady heard directly from Trustees about investments LLS is making in research and community events that support LLS’s mission. He also heard from two leukemia survivors: one who currently participates in the Medicare Part D program and faces extremely high out-of-pocket costs to access her medication and another who is about to become Medicare eligible and is making healthcare decisions based on his anticipated out-of-pocket burden to access treatment. We also discussed policy opportunities to address the impact of rising out-of-pocket prescription costs on all cancer patients.
Congressman Brady has now seen LLS from all sides. He has spoken with LLS’s research experts, met twice with LLS local leaders in his home state, heard directly from patients about their barriers to treatment and participated in a hallmark LLS event in his hometown. By providing a clear picture of all the facets of LLS and our mission, we help ensure that policymakers like Congressman Brady understand what matters most to blood cancer patients and their families and make a true difference for all of those who are impacted by cancer. Our work with Congressman Brady will only grow from here as we continue to support policies that advance cancer research and break down barriers that affect patients’ ability to access their treatments.
With National Volunteer Week approaching (Sunday, 4/15 — Saturday, 4/21), learn how you can raise your voice to help by clicking here. Remember, there are countless ways to help us change the landscape of cancer.