By John Richardson, NSGC Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations
The announcement of the NSGC Political Action Committee (PAC) is big news, as it will allow our advocacy for H.R. 3235, the “Access to Genetic Counselor Services Act,” to reach new heights. The NSGC PAC will enable us to communicate directly with candidates running for Congress. This level of access is critical because, as noted in the previous Advocate, our bill is one of the thousands competing for priority within Congress. Because Congress’ bandwidth is limited, the genetic counselor community needs to maximize its advocacy efforts to make members of Congress aware of our issues and push them to prioritize H.R. 3235.
The pandemic has certainly identified problems with the current regulation of genetic counselors within Medicare. The lack of statutory recognition of the profession has disrupted services, as genetic counseling was not able to transition to telemedicine for the Medicare patient population. The pandemic created a real world example of how H.R. 3235 would solve access barriers for Medicare patients to these important genetic services.
We need to utilize all of our available tools to support H.R. 3235. Here are several actions you can take to help the cause:
- Contact your member of Congress and urge them to cosponsor H.R. 3235 if they have not already. You can find the cosponsor list here. Thank them if they are cosponsors and request that they speak to their leadership about putting the bill into a larger, must-pass legislative package.
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the email address of the healthcare staffer for your member of Congress. These communications have a very high impact.
- Contact us (email@example.com) for help setting up a meeting with your member of Congress or their healthcare staff.
- We encourage genetic counselors working at organizations that have government relations departments to see if they will help. This engagement can have a tremendous impact. Just last week, a large cancer center led four Zoom meetings with different Congressional offices. The cancer center explained how they transitioned successfully to utilize more telemedicine during the pandemic, a genetic counselor discussed how genetic counseling can be delivered effectively using telemedicine, and I discussed H.R. 3235 and why it needs to be urgently passed. These were highly effective meetings that could easily be replicated. Email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) if your organization is interested.
- Contribute to the NSGC PAC. Keep in mind that small donations can quickly add up if many members participate. We will have a very strong PAC if everyone contributed $25-$50 – larger amounts are greatly appreciated. The PAC website allows you to make a one-time contribution or monthly recurring donations.
If we can ramp up our activity over the next few months and increase the intensity of our advocacy efforts, we will create momentum heading into the fall. Strong participation from you, the NSGC membership, is critical to this effort.
This article was published in the August 2020 Advocate Newsletter.