R.T. in D.C.: ten years and going strong.[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]
ASRT's R.T. in D.C. advocacy event marked a major milestone last month: For a decade now radiologic technologists have gathered in the nation's capital each spring to promote federal minimum standards for those who perform imaging exams and administer radiation therapy treatments, and they've never wavered in their commitment to the cause.
"I just feel it is so important that every exam is conducted properly. Radiologists can only read what we give them. That's the bottom line," said Jo Piccone, R.T.(R), who has attended the event every year since its inception. Her passion and determination are typical of R.T. in D.C. participants, whether long-time or first-time: "I will keep coming back as long as it takes."
This year, more than 120 technologists visited their congressional representatives, senators and legislative aides during the two-day event, answering questions about the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy bill, requesting legislators' support and thanking those who have cosponsored the proposed legislation. The bill would set national minimum educational and credentialing requirements for personnel who perform imaging and radiation therapy services. Currently, it has more than 160 cosponsors in the House and Senate.
Technologists' efforts on behalf of the CARE bill clearly are paying off, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Cathie Kukec, B.M.E., R.T.(R) (QM), a seven-time R.T. in D.C. participant. "We've made a lot of progress. Virtually everyone we talked to knew about the CARE bill. We answered all of their questions. Opposition is declining and we're getting good bipartisan support," said Ms. Kukec, ASRT ASRT American Society of Radiologic Technologists. speaker of the House and a member of the Illinois State Society of Radiologic Technologists. "It was a very positive trip this year."
"More people are interested and informed about the issue," concurred Ms. Piccone, of Connecticut, noting that R.T.s from every state are involved in promoting the bill.
"Our visibility and consistency have made us well known," agreed Linda Holden, M.S., R.T.(R)(QM), RDMS RDMS Relational Database Management System
RDMS Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers)
RDMS Research Data Management Services (University of Delaware, Newark, DE) , another seven-time R.T. in D.C. participant and ASRT president-elect. Still, she added, it's sometimes hard not to become frustrated with the slowness of the process and the way individual political agendas can hinder the bill's progress.
But everyone who has been involved with R.T. in D.C. over the years understands that it's a long-term undertaking: "Relationships [with legislators] develop over time," explained Valerie Byrne, M.S., R.T.(T), of ISSRT ISSRT Illinois State Society of Radiologic Technologists (Chicago, IL) , who has missed the event only once in 10 years. Several R.T.s pointed out that representatives, senators and their staffs now recognize the lab-coated R.T.s who arrive each year and even know some of them by name.
Persistence is certainly the name of the game. "The legislative process is a war of attrition The War of Attrition (Hebrew: מלחמת ההתשה, Arabic: ," said ASRT Legislative Counsel Bill Finerfrock at the R.T. in D.C. orientation session. "You have to invest the time and energy to educate people."
Christine Lung, ASRT director of government relations, compared the legislative process to growing an apple tree from a tiny sapling. "For the first few years you get leaves, but no apples. Each year the tree gets a little bigger and a little fuller. It takes time, and you have to do a lot of watering and a lot of fertilizing. After a few years, you get 10 apples, then 20 the next year, then 30. I think we're finally to the point where this tree [the CARE bill] will bear fruit."
But, she cautions, we might not get a bumper crop In agriculture, a bumper crop refers to a particularly good harvest yielded for a particular crop.
Example: "With all the rain we've had over the last few months, we are expecting a bumper crop this year. this season. "Our issue isn't timely right now," she said. "Other political issues are at the top of people's minds," including the war in Iraq, the fight against terrorism and the faltering economy.
One likely scenario for passage of the CARE bill is that it could be added to another health care-related bill, such as Medicare legislation. Election-year politics might thwart the process, but "We believe we're well positioned to get this through the 110th Congress," said Mr. Finerfrock.
During the meetings with R.T.s last month, congressional staffers asked key questions and raised a few concerns about the CARE bill. That's a good sign, according to ASRT Legal Counsel Dave Goch, because it indicates the bill has "traction" and is recognized on Capitol Hill as one of a handful of bills among the thousands introduced in this session that has "legs" and could go somewhere. "The further we get with the stand-alone bills [the identical Senate and House versions of the CARE bill], the better the prospect of having the legislation dropped into another bill," he added. "It's great that so many people showed up to help us with this legislation."
One concern a few congressional staff members raised during discussions with R.T.s was that education and certification of radiologic technologists might better be left to the states. However, as CARE bill advocates pointed out, these matters belong within federal purview The part of a statute or a law that delineates its purpose and scope.
Purview refers to the enacting part of a statute. It generally begins with the words be it enacted and continues as far as the repealing clause. because Medicare and Medicaid Medicare and Medicaid
U.S. government programs in effect since 1966. Medicare covers most people 65 or older and those with long-term disabilities. Part A, a hospital insurance plan, also pays for home health visits and hospice care. (both federally funded programs) are the largest payers for the services R.T.s provide. Currently, eight states and the District of Columbia District of Columbia, federal district (2000 pop. 572,059, a 5.7% decrease in population since the 1990 census), 69 sq mi (179 sq km), on the east bank of the Potomac River, coextensive with the city of Washington, D.C. (the capital of the United States). have no standards for who can perform imaging examinations and administer radiation therapy treatments, and some other states that do have laws on the books have set low standards.
In addition to answering questions about the bill, the R.T.s thanked many long-term congressional supporters for their help. One of these was Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi Michael Bradley "Mike" Enzi (born February 1 1944) is a conservative Republican United States Senator from Wyoming. Before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1996, Enzi had been a businessman, who at one time owned family shoe stores. , who first signed on as a bill sponsor seven years ago. "We appreciate his loyalty," said Ms. Holden, who is one of Sen. Enzi's constituents. "He's our champion and we need to let him know that. He's done his job. Now it's up to the others to do their part." A delegation of R.T.s who live and work in New Jersey, ASRT staff and ASRT President Connie Mitchell, M.A., R.T. (R)(CT), met with Rep. Frank Pallone Frank Pallone Jr. (born October 30, 1951 in Long Branch, New Jersey) is an American Democratic politician, who has been a member of the United States House of Representatives where he represents New Jersey's 6th district ( map). Jr. to discuss the bill and also presented him with the 2008 Advocacy Award in recognition of his ongoing support.
R.T.s who participated in the grass-roots event believe that as much as they give to the cause, they get back in return. "I've loved learning about the political process," said Ms. Kukec. "Washington, D.C., is such a stimulating place to be. There are so many intelligent people here."
"I've dedicated my time every year to do this, and I learn more every time I come," said Ms. Byrne. "I wish I had more time to work on this cause."
Part of the reason for R.T. in D.C.'s success, and a big part of what makes the event fun, is the variety of R.T.s who participate. "People come from all parts of the country, with all different personalities," said Jim Temme, M.P.A., R.T.(R)(QM), FASRT, of Nebraska and ASRT secretary-treasurer. "We're taking advantage of the diverse talent within the profession." Some 40 R.T.s made their first trip to the advocacy event this year and were paired with veterans.
Ultimately, we all will benefit from enactment of the CARE bill, which will help ensure high quality patient care, fewer retakes, better diagnoses, more effective treatment and lower health care costs. As Ms. Kukec said: "It's for me, my family, my friends. It's for everybody."
What You Can Do NOW
Shortly after arriving home from the R.T. in D.C. advocacy event, participants received great news that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed the Consistency, Accuracy, Responsibility and Excellence in Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy bill. The HELP Committee traditionally has jurisdiction over health care standards. The bill is before the Senate Finance Committee now, which has jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid legislation.
R.T.s should contact members of the Senate Finance Committee to urge them to support the CARE bill, S. 1042. Those members are:
Max Baucus Max Sieben Baucus (born December 11 1941) is the senior United States Senator from Montana and is a member of the Democratic Party. Baucus is currently chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Finance and 10th Longest-serving current Senator. , D-Mont. Jeff Bingaman Jesse Francis "Jeff" Bingaman Jr. (born October 3, 1943) is the junior U.S. Senator from New Mexico. He has been in the Senate since 1983 and is a member of the Democratic Party. Bingaman was Attorney General of New Mexico from 1978 until his election to the U.S. , D-N.M. Jim Bunning James Paul David "Jim" Bunning (born October 23, 1931) is an American politician who was a Hall of Fame pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1955 to 1971. He subsequently entered electoral politics and was eventually elected to the United States Senate from Kentucky; he has served , R-Ky. Maria Cantwell Maria E. Cantwell (born October 13, 1958) is the junior United States Senator from the state of Washington and is a member of the Democratic Party. Previously she served in Washington House of Representatives and one term as member of the United States House of Representatives , D-Wash. Kent Conrad Gaylord Kent Conrad (generally known as Kent Conrad) (born on March 12 1948) is a United States senator from North Dakota. He is a member of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, the North Dakota affiliate of the Democratic Party. , D-N.D. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho John Ensign John Eric Ensign (born 25 March 1958) is the junior United States Senator from Nevada, serving since January 2001. He is a member of the Republican Party, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. , R-Nev. Chuck Grassley Charles Ernest "Chuck" Grassley (born September 17 1933) is the senior United States Senator from Iowa. He is a member of the Republican Party. He was chairman of the Finance Committee from January to June 2001, and from January 2003 to December 2006 and currently serves as the , R-Iowa Orrin Hatch Orrin Grant Hatch (born March 22, 1934) is a Republican United States Senator from Utah, serving since 1977.
Hatch is a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, where he serves on the subcommittees on Energy, Natural Resources, and Infrastructure and Taxation and IRS , R-Utah John Kerry, D-Mass. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. John Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va. Ken Salazar, D-Colo. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. John Sununu, R-N R-N Raion (Russian, district; used in postal addresses) .H. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.