Respiratory Therapists go to DC to get Congressional Support
Last month Rancho Cucamonga’s Respiratory Therapy (RT) Program Director, Ricardo Guzman and RT instructor, Russell McCord joined over 100 Respiratory Therapists across the nation to meet with members of Congress in Washington, DC to promote the Medicare Respiratory Therapy Access Act. Passage of the Act into law would amend Medicare Part B to provide funds for Respiratory Therapists to work alongside physicians to provide education to patients about how to better manage their pulmonary disease.
The Respiratory Therapy profession feels that a patient’s better understanding of their disease and treatment would result in tremendous cost savings through fewer hospital admissions and emergency room visits. Education would also impact patient quality of life, as their respiratory disease becomes better managed. “Registered Respiratory Therapists (RRT) would teach those with pulmonary disease how to use their medications, such as inhalers, how to exercise underdeveloped muscles that have been deprived of oxygen and how to restore muscle reserve, as well as the importance of proper nutrition to promote strength, energy and wellness,” says Ricardo Guzman.
During “Hill Day” proponents of the Act met with legislators and representatives from every state, including 17 from California. The purpose of the meetings was to solicit support for the Act to move successfully into Bill form, which would then be sent to the Congressional Budget Office for scoring, or cost determination. The Bill would then be sent to Congress for a deciding vote of support or rejection before Senate consideration. This process could take several months.
The RT coalition brought with them 861 action letters generated by California constituents to supplement the over 20,000 letters already sent to DC in support of the Medicare Respiratory Therapy Access Act. “Every one of SJVC’s 108 RT students sent a letter to our local legislators,” says Guzman. “Their efforts contributed to a very successful effort in Washington, as many of those we met with had already received our letters,” says Guzman.
“At 8:00 AM all we had was the Act, and by 5:00 PM we had a congressional sponsor and co-sponsor with companion bills in both the Senate and the House.”