Speaking for My Patients: Advocacy Day Recap

Kimberlee Hauff, MD, FAAP
Co-Chair, WCAAP Sustainability & Engagement Committee

Nearly 100 pediatric healthcare providers from 27 legislative districts around the state met in Olympia this past month to advocate for Washington kids—more than any other healthcare group in the state! This was my fifth year in attendance and it only gets better with time. I look forward to it every year as a day to catch-up with colleagues and friends, listen to inspiring speakers, and meet with legislators as a valued constituent. This year, we focused on improving kids’ access to health and behavioral health care on Apple Health (Medicaid), early childhood and family supports, tobacco 21, and vaccine exemptions. You can read more about WCAAP legislative priorities here: https://wcaap.org/advocacy/active-issues/

My most important take away: As a pediatric provider, you are the expert. Your patients and their stories are the ones that legislators need to hear. As an introverted pediatric hospitalist, I often feel overwhelmed on Advocacy Day, asking myself, “who am I to be the ‘expert’ on tobacco 21?” What I’ve learned in the past several years is that I have the opportunity to develop relationships with my legislators and that comfort makes it easier for me to share patient stories and how each proposed bill affects my work. Bringing along a well-spoken, extroverted, pediatric colleague with me never hurts.

I had the opportunity to meet with Rep. Eric Pettigrew again this year; and even though our meeting was shorter than typical—he was needed on the floor to vote—he remembered who I was, asked “what else are you all in need of this year?” and gave us tips on how to advance our priorities further. I felt more at ease speaking quickly and effectively this year than in years past. I know he values my opinion (and all pediatric opinions) because I’m speaking not for myself, but for my patients– and that’s what keeps me coming every year.

Want to hear more?

  • Legislative committee phone meetings: https://wcaap.org/advocacy/advocacy-committee/
  • Sign up for text alerts to take action on our legislative priorities: text WCAAP to 50457.
  • Get Advocacy Day 2020 on your calendar: Date TBD – January/February 2020.
  • Arrange for a meeting with your legislator after this session ends. Let WCAAP help you! https://wcaap.org/advocacy/contact-your-legislators/ These meetings are often last longer, are more low-key, and are a great way to connect before the session begins.

Thank you to our 2019 Advocacy Day sponsors: