October 2012 Advocate of the Month: Tom Glass
On September 25th Jerry Walton, Southeastern Virginia Multiple Myeloma support group leader met with a legislative office that he had spoken with before on oral parity. But this time he had new ammunition to ask for co-sponsorship of HR2746, the Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act: He had Tom Glass! Tom and Jerry made a plan to share their stories and those of other support group members with Congressman Scott Rigell (VA-2)’s District Manager.
In late August, Tom Glass completed the IMF’s online advocacy training seeking a way to “give something” of himself. “I want to spend time focusing on things other than myself and my physical condition,” says Tom who was diagnosed in February 2011. “I made a few false starts volunteering and then I saw the offer for advocacy training through the IMF. I had been attending the local IMF Support Group for awhile and I saw this as an opportunity to do something of value that I could feel good about.” Motivated and confident from the training, he jumped into action and contacted Congressman Scott Rigell's district office in Virginia Beach to schedule a meeting to discuss HR2746.
Passing a federal oral chemotherapy parity bill is particularly important to Tom because the recently passed bill in Virginia did not impact Medicare part D co-pay problems. “I was surprised and disappointed to discover all the people that were not covered by the passage of the VA Parity Act, including myself. It became apparent to me that we need a federal bill to cover even more patients in Virginia and across the country.”
Having never participated in advocacy before Tom relayed that “the process felt like a challenge to me as I have never met with a legislator. However, I felt well prepared thanks to the information and handouts provided to me by Aimee. The process was easier and more comfortable than I initially thought it would be. I simply called up Congressman Rigell's local office and they arranged for me and Jerry to meet with the District Manager.”
Tom and Jerry asked for Cong. Rigell’s support/co-sponsorship of HR 2746, The Cancer Drug Coverage Parity Act by sharing personal experiences and discussing the newly passed Virginia law’s shortcomings. “Tom invited me to join him at the scheduled meeting,” explains Jerry, “to provide compelling examples of support group members who had been severely impacted by myeloma pill expenses, including some who had turned down doctor-recommended therapies due to the high cost under their insurance coverage.” During the meeting Tom noticed that the District Manager “was visibly taken back by the co-pay cost for oral chemotherapy and she agreed to forward the information to the Congressman's aide who deals specifically with health care issues.” Tom and Jerry also brought along a signed letter of support from many members of their support group.
We asked the duo to share some final thoughts:
“I do not know what will come of the meeting in terms of if he will co-sponsor HR2746. What I do take away from it is that it was easier to at least be heard than I thought and it did feel worth doing. If we have another issue in the future to bring to the attention of a legislator I would be glad to do it again.” –Tom Glass, Virginia Beach
“Tom's leadership led to a very effective session with the Congressman's District Director in which the need for federal oral parity legislation (in addition to previously passed state oral parity legislation) was emphasized. Well done to Tom for his leadership and to the IMF for making advocacy a front-burner item and helping constituents to effectively carry the ball on such important issues.” - Jerry Walton. Leader, Southeastern Virginia Multiple Myeloma Support Group
A big thank you to Tom Glass for your enthusiasm and energy from beginning to end of this project! And Congratulations for being October’s Advocate of the Month!