IPS Advocacy Day
IPS Goes to Springfield every year for a full day Advocacy Event. Below is an article and photos from the 2017 Advocacy Day event as appeared in the IPS newletter.
Click Here for Details about 2019 Advocacy Day.
Reflections on Advocacy Day
Ishaq Lachin, MD
This past April 30th, I, along with many of my colleagues, had the opportunity to go to Springfield for the annual IPS Advocacy Day. This year, we decided to focus on two bills, one improving the collaborative care model between mental health providers and primary care, and another focused on simplifying and standardizing the prior authorization process. From the moment we hopped on the bus for the trip, it was a whirlwind of activity. We were advised by Dr. Daniel Yohanna and others on how we should structure our interactions with our legislators: 1) keep our discussions clear and concise, 2) focus on the benefits of passing these bills, 3) know where the bills were currently in the process, and 4) offer our time afterwards for follow up discussions.
After our arrival, we walked past the inspiring statue of Abraham Lincoln and made our way into the capitol building where we were greeted by throngs of people, all of whom were also looking to lobby for their own legislative goals. From those wishing for greater park investment to those seeking more funds for schools, we were met with young and old, experienced and novice, and they were willing to discuss their causes with anyone who would listen. We then split into different groups to find our own individual legislators, and we learned that they were taking part in an active session. To get a better view, we went up into the gallery, and I was able to spot my state senator, Ram Villivalam. Seeking an opportunity to meet him, we waited outside of the chamber doors along with a crowd of others all hoping to get a chance to meet with him. When he came out of the session, I made my way over and waited for a group of realtors who had traveled to Springfield to share their concerns about recent efforts to regulate rent prices. When our turn came, we spoke with him for a few minutes about the bills we were hoping to pass, keeping the discussion detailed but brief, and it turned out that he had actually helped bring the pieces of legislation to the floor. He was an enthusiastic supporter of both measures. He was engaging, interested, and despite the large crowd surrounding him, gave us his undivided attention.
For the rest of the day, I learned the importance of the office staff and how they can serve as a valuable liaison between constituents and their representatives. Though we weren’t able to meet many legislators directly, we were able to share details about our bills with their advisors, along with our contact information. While the capitol building can seem like a maze, it was amazing to see just how quickly words spread from office to office as we eventually made our way to the state representatives’ side of the building. As the day came to a close, we regrouped with our colleagues and went off to dinner together to share stories, discuss issues facing our field and how we can continue to play a role in tackling them. Several lawmakers joined us at dinner, giving us another opportunity to converse and share our gratitude for their help, before we made our way back to Chicago.
A month after Advocacy Day, I unexpectedly ran into my state senator, Ram Villivalam, at a charity dinner for the Assyrian Aid Society. He not only recognized me, but also remembered the specific pieces of legislation that IPS supported. We talked about how great it was that they had passed and what the next steps would be. I was amazed that despite only speaking for a few minutes, he remembered so clearly the details of our previous discussion. This experience showed me that our efforts in Springfield were worthwhile and inspired me to not only attend next year’s Advocacy Day, but to stay involved with advocacy work through IPS in any way I can.