On Wednesday, I joined leaders from across the Saint Alphonsus Health System for a visit with the Idaho and Oregon Congressional delegations in Washington, DC, as part of Trinity Health’s Advocacy Action Day.
We were lucky to make the trip at all. The timing of our visit fell right after the federal budget cuts collectively known as sequestration went into effect, and the threat of a large winter storm shut down most of DC, cancelling 1,400 flights. (Westerners will note the “storm” resulted primarily in rain showers and wind, nothing like the storms we’ve had this winter in Oregon and Idaho.) Still, the combination of the storm and resulting federal government shutdown meant we had to change our plans often, as members of the delegation or their staff were unavailable. We were able to meet with four out of seven of our representatives in Washington, including Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID), Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and the staff from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).
In these small meetings, we had a great opportunity to share the story of our local health delivery transformation efforts and our success in reducing waste and inefficiency while lowering cost and improving quality. Moreover, we were able to build on our positive working relationships with our Congressional delegation so we can serve as a policy resource to our members of Congress when they are facing difficult decisions about how to address deficit and budget issues.
Despite the dreaded “Snowquester” of 2013, our discussions were productive. Leaders from across Trinity Health reported their ability to deliver coordinated messages to a broad swath of Congressional members.
I’m very grateful to the Congressional delegations that represent Saint Alphonsus Health System of Idaho and Oregon. The issues they face are incredibly demanding and challenging, and I look forward to serving as a resource to them as they proceed.