Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Taking Action in Olympia: WA State Action Day Recap

Yet again, MS Activists in Washington State have demonstrated that together we are stronger than MS! More than 65 activists attended our annual State Action Day at the state capitol in Olympia, and conducted nearly 100 visits to their legislators.

This year's group of MS Activists!
We brought the stories of people living with MS to our state's elected officials, ensuring they understand the needs of people with MS. Our requests focused on two pieces of legislation, HB 2326 and HB 2445, both of which will improve access to information about our health care insurance and how decisions are made about benefits and care.

Thanks to all of our activists for joining us!

MS Activist Jonathan Sari shares this recap of our annual Washington State Action Day:

MS Activists ready to take action!
On a brisk February morning, committed MS Activists from around Washington State met in Olympia to further the cause of Washingtonians living with MS.

Our legislative agenda for the session was to improve transparency in our state's health insurance system. As happened each of my prior years, we heard from expert speakers
who laid out the problems that our proposed legislation was intended to remedy, along with the outcomes we expected to result from those remedies. We also were honored to hear a vision for the future outlined by our Governor Inslee.  

Governor Jay Inslee speaks to the group.
After the presentations, it was time to speak with our legislators. For Legislative District 46, those legislators are Senator David Frockt, Representative Gerry Pollet, and Representative Jessyn Farrell. We did not manage to secure meetings with Representative Pollet or Senator Frockt, but Representative Farrell graciously made time to meet with us.

It was my third year attending our State Action Day. This year, my two compatriots (who had made the hour-long drive from our North Seattle district to the state capitol each of my prior two years) couldn't attend -- so I conducted the visits on my own.

Jonathan Sari (right) at a legislative meeting last year
I arrived at Representative Farrell's office fifteen minutes early. These legislators are busy! While I waited I watched her wrap up a meeting with the fire fighters union and receive a message from the Speaker of the House -- a request that ended up limiting our meeting time. 

Representative Farrell remembered me from our earlier meetings and given our limited time, I kept our request to the basics: I asked for her support for our bills and explained that we hoped to streamline reporting and improve accountability for health insurance. She asked some good questions and although I didn't remember all of the specific answers, I promised to get answers that day. I also shared my personal experience of my own medication denial by my insurance company. I thanked her for her time, letting her know that I was following her email newsletter, and let her get to her meeting.

MS Activists meet with legislative staff.
I also dropped off the information packets with Representative Pollet's and Senator Frockt's offices. Before returning home, I reported in to Linnea, the Chapter's advocacy manager, to request the information to follow up so I could follow up that evening with Rep. Farrell.

I am glad to be a part of the Society's efforts to make government work better for those of us living with MS.

-Jonathan Sari

Visit our Facebook page for more photos of our State Action Day event.

Questions? Want to get involved? Let us know.

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