What a difference a year makes. April Venes an myself made the trek to Washington DC this year. April was taking the place of Joe Dwan, at least she did so as well as anyone could. Joe you were missed by all in DC as this was the first year that there was a PACT meeting in DC without Joe. Last year it was Norm who I filled in for, and that was the first without both Norm and Joe. So with my limited experience and a new partner we headed off to DC to meet with our representatives. We both were a little unsure of what to expect as we attended the Monday evening brief. We had both gone over a mountain of paperwork, although April was on top if it all as she prepared extra paperwork with her advanced spreadsheet skills. It worked out well as she was the task master, and I the time keeper. After the brief was over we headed out to dinner and discussed our plan for the next day. We had a detailed list of who, when and where. All was organized and we just needed to come up with that pesky last piece the dreaded sales pitch. How to put all this information into a brief summery to engage them. While at dinner we received our first monkey wrench into the works. One of our appointments needed to reschedule due to a conflict it was 8 pm and well you just roll with it. We reset the appointment for an hour earlier and it was done. Not 2 minutes later we received another call and that time didn’t work for them either. A little more fine tuning and we had our schedule set again. It looked like we would just adjust our lunch back a little and all would work out great. The next morning we headed to the hill and we were off and running literally we were running. Unlike the year before when Joe and I had put so much into it just to see one office after another look run down and beaten up basically just wanting to be professionally polite and listen to our spiel and get on their way. This had a much different feel right from the start. We were greeted by new staff and a new enthusiasm. Office after office spoke with us for 20 to 30 minutes and some even more. We found ourselves leaving one office and rushing to another only to find the same results. The staff had good questions, they were interested, engaged and even curious as to why this had not already passed. If it weren’t for a little help from the Alpha-1 foundation giving us a ride we may have been late for an appointment, but as luck had it we make it just in the nick of time. With 3 down and it was now noon we followed a staffer down to what we thought was going to be a quick bite to eat, but with about 20 to go to the next appointment and the lines looking like we were standing in a Wal-Mart checkout on line on Black Friday we opted for a drink and to move on to the next appointment. it was a good thing to we made it just in the nick of time. This the staff was running a little late, and they were very nice and said we are running just a little behind. They apologized and soon we were greeted by the only Oregon representative to actually sit down with us this trip. It was Rep. Greg Walden. He took the time to sit with us and made us feel like we were family and time was not an issue. What a nice surprise. He sat with us and spoke about the Medicare part B respiratory iniative and before we knew it 30 minutes were gone and it was time to move on. He gladly took pictures with us and then apologized as he had to go he was late for his next meeting. His senior healthcare advisor spent about another 15 minutes with us and there went lunch. It was sure a good thing that April had brought a little chocolate we may not have made it thru the day if she hadn’t, at least I may not have. I shudder to think of what could have happened, the grumpy side of me may have reared its ugly head, so I thank April for rescuing me. The next 3 appointments were all 30 minutes apart and we literally ran from one to the next as staff wanted to talk to 20 plus minutes in each office. What a difference a year makes. I finally asked one of the staffers what it was like last year. We were there just a few days before the vote on healthcare reform. His answer was October to March was a really long month last year, yeah I got Christmas off though, but other than that we pretty much worked straight thru. It is finally over and I must say a sincere thank you to all who helped us out. In particular I would like to thank Joe Dwan for all the hard work he did before we went back. Thank you Joe, you were missed and greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank April Venes for filling in for Joe as not many could have. You had a very large pair of shoes to fill, and you didn’t look like a clown, not even once. You filled in like you had been doing it for years. I was impressed how quickly you caught on and how all of our meetings went smooth from start to finish. I would also like to thank each member of the OSRC BOD for being involved and making sure we are well represented in Washington DC. Thank you all for your time and service, and thank you for the support you gave us on our journey to the capital.
Tony T. Garberg.