On September 22-23, our patient and caregiver community participated in IMPACT 2020, a virtual advocacy event designed to encourage U.S. Congress to support policies to improve the lives of people living with COPD and ultimately find a cure.
In advance of the virtual meetings, a document outlining the COPD Foundation’s critical policy priorities and facts about COPD was sent to all members of Congress and their staff with whom advocates had scheduled meetings.
Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, no travel to Washington, D.C., was required. Instead, advocates representing 26 states met virtually with members of both the House of Representatives and Senate and their staff, resulting in close to 100 meetings.
The full IMPACT 2020 program, which lasted for approximately six weeks, focused on building participants’ knowledge about the critical priorities for the COPD community as well as their advocacy, storytelling and relationship-building skills. This was achieved through a series of training webinars, homework assignments and practice sessions.
IMPACT 2020 participants focused on four critical policy priorities and asked their elected officials to:
- Provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with funding for the Chronic Disease Education & Awareness program to combat COPD
- Urge the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to continue the suspension of competitive bidding for oxygen supplies through at least 2022;
- Urge CMS to include billing codes for pulmonary rehabilitation services on the list of telehealth services covered during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Join the COPD Caucus to support the COPD community and help advance policies that benefit people living with this condition.
IMPACT 2020 built on the success of IMPACT 2019 and, while progress has been made, more work must be done if we are to achieve meaningful change for the COPD community.
There were 63 registered advocates representing 26 states resulting in close to 100 virtual meetings with members of the House of Representatives and Senate. A few of their comments:
"I am learning so much and want to thank everyone for all you do for us with COPD."
"I felt as though I was part of some big changes to come."
"Just sincere gratitude for all the efforts to make IMPACT a success by equipping all the advocates with the information."
"Our state representatives really listened to our stories and expressed appreciation and a new understanding of what our patients face."
Participants described what advocacy means to them resulting in the following word cloud image.
IMPACT 2020 proved that there are many ways to be an effective advocate – you can tell your story, make your voice heard and make a difference – all without physically traveling to Washington, D.C.!
Contact your elected officials through our COPD Action Center, sign up to become a COPD Foundation State Captain or simply use your voice to spread awareness about these important issues to anyone who will listen.
Together, we can – and will – make a tremendous IMPACT!
The COPD Foundation thanks our Corporate Partners Sunovion, Grifols and GSK for providing the funding to deliver this important program. Without their support, IMPACT 2020 would not have been possible.
A printable summary of the program can be found here.