I recently had the opportunity to travel to Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. along with Dr. John Weigelt of Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin to talk with Wisconsin’s members of Congress about WCHQ’s mission to improve the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare. The visits were scheduled to help build relationships with our members of Congress and other policymakers through our involvement and work with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).
We were not at Capitol Hill to lobby or influence legislation, but rather to engage our representatives as supporters of our work in Wisconsin and ask for their assistance in broadening our reach in the state. Our Capitol Hill visit included six visits with Representatives Paul Ryan, Tammy Baldwin, Steve Kagen and Ron Kind and staff from both Senators Herb Kohl’s and Russ Feingold’s offices. We were gratified by the recognition we received for the relevance of our efforts to the critical issue of healthcare reform.
An engaging story
We followed our introduction and history with Dr. Weigelt’s compelling account of his own personal experiences with WCHQ as associate dean of clinical quality at the Medical College of Wisconsin and medical director of quality for Froedtert. Dr. Weigelt brought the work of WCHQ to life for the representatives and the senators’ staff. To read about Dr. Weigelt’s story, please see the article, “From skepticism to commitment” in this issue of News & Views.
The representatives seemed to readily understand the essence and significance of WCHQ’s mission – perhaps a testament to timing and the current prominence of healthcare reform. All were quick to comment that our initiative was critically important to the work of healthcare reform. The senators’ staff were also appreciative of what we had accomplished thus far.
We asked the senators’ offices to help us by reaching out to the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA) to encourage the 17 Community Health Centers (federally qualified health centers) in Wisconsin to consider working with WCHQ. Both offices indicated they would research the possibility of granting our request and let us know if they could assist us.
In turn, we want to enlist our elected officials’ support for our efforts and ask for their assistance in overcoming barriers and challenges we face. We trust our enhanced relationship with Washington will also increase the visibility of our work and goals, moving us closer to achieving our mission of improving the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare. We are grateful for RWJF’s support in forging this important connection to the Hill and look forward to the many positive outcomes it will bring.
I would also like to extend our sincere appreciation to the members, stakeholders and strategic partners of WCHQ for your tireless support and leadership. We have made significant progress over the last seven years and have much to contribute to the discussion on healthcare reform. I look forward to working with you in 2010 and wish you a joyous holiday season.