On my morning dog walks this past week I've worn a pair of brand new Johnson & Murphy black patent leather wingtip shoes hoping I can break them in before this year's AANP Federal Lobbying Initiative (FLI) in Washington, DC April 26-28th. Technically these shoes are called brogues, the name refers to the perforations along the leather's edges, supposedly these were originally installed to help water drain while walking through Scottish bogs.

Written by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO, AANP Board Member

Alterations to my new suit should be done in time for me to pick it up today. I'm on track to look the part of a mature, successful doctor when I meet with the office staff of my Federal representatives next month.

I would be pretending if I were to write that these recent acquisitions have not lead me to contemplating Henry Thoreau's line from Walden, “beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes.”

Indeed I have given this some thought. Not with the philosophic depth as Henry did, but in a somewhat pragmatic sense; I cannot help but compare the cost of these new garments with the cost of new Gore-Tex ski pants and jackets. I'm experiencing sticker shock. There is nothing philosophical to this. Joseph Abboud just doesn't thrill me as much as an Arcteryx or Mammut jacket might have. But as with so many other things over the years, I chalk these purchases off to the cost of doing business, just another part of working in a developing profession, one that still struggles to find its place in the world.

The AANP has been holding these FLI affairs every spring for years now [how many?]. It gives our profession the opportunity to bring together the politically motivated members of our profession, gives them the opportunity to network and get to know each other, gives the AANP the chance to train them in the rudiments of politics and lobbying and gives our membership the image that our association is working for us. But what good does it do us to lobby on a Federal level?

The laws that impact my practice the most on a day-to-day level are state regulations, or lack of them. State law decides whether what I do is legal or illegal. State law sets my scope of practice, my privileges, and my prescriptive authority.
So why go to DC?

It's the Federal piece that we need to get a handle on. Our profession's leadership is eager for inclusion in Federal programs such as the Affordable Care Act and Medicare, programs that might pay huge dividends to our members. While I have my doubts about whether I want to be part of modern health care and whether I really want to be part of it, I am excited about going to DC and trying out my new suit.

Politics, though it often seems remote and out of our control, still comes down to building relationships, something we are particularly skilled at. There are people serving in DC that I wish to continue knowing. In particular I'm looking forward to visiting the office of my Senator, a fellow I met in the early 1990s when he was a freshman in our State House of Representatives. He was supportive of our legislative efforts then and I've supported his legislative campaigns ever since. He's entering a challenging campaign this year, one that he likens to climbing a 14-er, a particularly Colorado analogy. Out of state money donated by a pair of wealthy brothers is already causing concern. I'm going as much to lend my support as to again ask for his. But let's leave state politics out of this.

I've not met my Congresswoman before though of course we have many mutual connections

So I'm seeing this endeavor as making a series of social calls and if it moves us a step closer to better financial enumeration, that's a good thing.

I should confess, as all of you who know me already suspect, I'm not a big fan of “give me” lobbying, the pleading sort of requests from special interest groups for what they need. I would much prefer to lobby for things that will help my patients and help our country's people live healthier more productive lives. Cleaner air, safer water, better food, better transportation, better educational opportunities; these are the things we deeply believe help people lead healthier lives.

If we all had more time and money, I would love to see the AANP rotating doctors through DC weekly to fight for all these causes. Yet at this point, I don't think we can afford these other fights; we need to ask for what we need to survive and possibly thrive.

If you've been on the fence about coming to the FLI in DC, there is still time to make a decision to come. It's a fun city, all the museums are free, public transit is fantastic, all paid for by tax-payers. The training program that the AANP has lined up promises to be interesting. Plus it's a once in a lifetime opportunity to see me in a suit. I'm even going to buy a new tie.

But goodness, these shoes are killing my feet and I've got my fingers crossed hoping for cool weather next month, that fancy suit is what they call all-season wool, and I'm already having my doubts.