In December when I went to Washington for the lobby day to press for passage of H.R. 6490, I had an appointment with my representative, Robert Hurt of Virginia’s 5th District. He had already signed on to H.R. 6490, so the purpose of my visit was to thank him for his support and congratulate him on his election victory.
As I walked down the hall of the Longworth House Office Building toward Hurt’s office, a young man walking toward me smiled and said, “Hello, Mr. Stanfield. Good to see you again.”
The young man was Kelly Simpson, Hurt’s health legislative aide. Kelly and I had met during the previous year as I lobbied for the industry.
Kelly is an old hand in Washington, having worked for former Representative Virgil Goode four years earlier. Goode was not only a previous 5th district Congressman from Virginia, but someone I call a friend. It was in 2002, during his fourth term in the House, that I made the decision that unless I got involved in politics, I couldn’t change the path of public policy for the DME industry of which I was a part.
During the 2002 election campaign I launched the plan that today I ask other suppliers to follow. The grassroots advocacy program I put in place for the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Suppliers (NAIMES) is founded on two principles: without a personal relationship with my representative I have no voice, and unless my representative recognizes my face and knows my name, I don’t have a relationship.
I put my plan into action and within a matter of months Goode recognized me and knew my name and about my company. At the time I was an owner, with partners, of two full-line DME businesses and two unit-dose respiratory medication pharmacies. I was active with two state DME associations and with AAHomecare, the relatively new national trade association formed after the merger of the National Association for Medical Equipment Services (NAMES) and the home care division of the Health Industry Distributors Association (HIDA).
Goode and I met many times in D.C. during his years in the House as well as back home in the district. Not only did I contribute to his campaign, but I was an advocate for him and his legislative goals. As often as I could, I made a point of being wherever Goode was when he was back home in the district. It was during his last years in the House that I met his aide, Kelly Simpson, later a senior aide to Hurt.