May 26, 2017

LEND Trainees in DC

From March 20-22, 2017 LEND trainees from NH and Maine traveled to Washington, DC, to participate in the Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) where they received intensive advocacy training and met with their elected officials and staff on Capitol Hill. This year’s trip was especially timely and memorable as it took place just before the Congressional vote on the American Health Care Act of 2017.

This annual trip is the culmination of a semester-long project where LEND trainees work with faculty to complete a policy analysis on a current legislative issue and develop a policy brief to share with Congressional delegates and staffers about the importance of the legislation for people with disabilities. Twenty-three trainees (17 from UNH and 6 from UMaine) traveled with faculty members Rae Sonnenmeier, Betsy Humphreys, Alan Kurtz, and Sue Russell to the Seminar. On Sunday, the trainees attended the AUCD Trainee Summit where they met with LEND program trainees from across the country, AUCD leaders, and Hill staffers to prepare for the conference.

This year the legislative issue trainees spoke about was the proposed restructuring of Medicaid as a part of the American Health Care Act. To prepare for the trip to DC, LEND trainees from NH and Maine worked with faculty members Kay Johnson and Alan Cobo-Lewis. Together they prepared a policy brief and talking points on the proposed restructuring of Medicaid and the impact that would have on critically needed services for children and youth with developmental disabilities and special health care needs and their families. 

The trainees went to the Capitol the day before the scheduled vote on the American Health Care Act. Trainees attended two press conferences on Capitol Hill; one with Former Vice President, Joe Biden and Minority Leader of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi and the second with Senators Bob Casey, Maggie Hassan, and former Senator Tom Harkin. They then met with elected officials, sharing their stories and the work they did.

That version of the bill was not voted in, and the work of LEND trainees was included in a statement by NH Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter as part of the reason she did not support the bill. She included quotes from LEND trainees Deb Genthner, Emily Bourque, and L. LeGrand in her official statement. You can read the full statement on her website >

Trainees have continued their advocacy at the local level since returning home. 

View the AUCD’s photos from the event  >

The mission of NH-ME LEND is to prepare leaders to enter the field of maternal and child health in order to improve the lives of children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families, with particular attention to the needs of children with ASD. NH-ME LEND aims to increase the numbers of leaders in the MCH workforce, increase the leadership capacity of the workforce, and address health disparities in our region through high-quality interdisciplinary training. Learn more about the program at mchlend.unh.edu.