Our volunteers made waves visiting Congress and learning firsthand how elevating the patient voice can make a real difference.
NPF’s annual Capitol Hill Day is one of the most rewarding and productive events held each year by the Advocacy department, and this year’s event was no different. Advocates from our patient and researcher communities met with more than 60 members of the House and Senate, shared their personal stories and explained the importance of our policy priorities.
The unique mix of patient and physician perspectives that we bring to the Hill means that members of Congress can gain a more comprehensive view of the challenges our community faces and the issues individuals deal with on a daily basis. The flagship event is also a great way for our volunteers to come together to build bonds with fellow advocates and members of our staff.
A win for our cause
The great news is that our advocacy activities helped advance several of our key policy issues! For the upcoming fiscal year 2019, 38 members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, signed a letter supporting our request for dedicated psoriatic disease research funding, up from 20 representatives last year. In the Senate, we increased the number of supporters from 11 to 13, including first-time signer Sen. Gary Peters (D-Michigan), who added his name to the letter after meeting with our advocates. This expanded show of support will improve our chances of securing the funding during this appropriations season.
We have also seen, and, we hope, will continue to see, an increase in cosponsors for House bill 2077, the Restoring the Patient’s Voice Act, the federal step therapy reform bill.
This annual event also presents a critical opportunity to discover new psoriatic disease connections among lawmakers and staff. During our meetings, we learned that two members of the Senate have a son or grandson with psoriasis. Additionally, we met several staffers with family and friends who have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, or who are clinicians treating the disease. Identifying these connections helps us build champions in Congress who can amplify our efforts among their colleagues.
“The patient, provider and researcher voice is always the most effective tool we have available to us as an advocacy team. Our advocates are always very well spoken and their message and ‘asks’ always are delivered with precision. The entire psoriatic disease community would be proud of how they were represented,” says Patrick Stone, vice president of Government Relations and Advocacy at NPF.
An exercise in team-building
On top of the success we had with lawmakers, a number of our advocates shared how rewarding they found the experience. Whether they were first-time visitors to D.C. or veterans of our federal advocacy activities, many reflected on the positive impact Capitol Hill Day had on their perceptions of advocacy and its effectiveness.
One participant noted, “Visiting members of Congress on Capitol Hill allowed me the opportunity to share my story directly to those who can affect policy changes to support those with psoriatic conditions. I felt empowered to participate in the process, and excited for the changes that could come because of our advocacy at Capitol Hill Day.”
We sincerely appreciate the time and energy that each of our advocates devoted to this year’s event! It was a huge success due to the dedication and enthusiasm that everyone brought to D.C. We look forward to building on this momentum to secure more policy advances and to help foster relationships between the psoriatic disease community and Capitol Hill.
We can’t wait to see many of you again next spring in our nation’s capital and at local events around the country!