Stephanie K. Rink, MS, MLS(ASCP)CM, ASCLS Political Action Committee Vice Chair
Between all the federal regulatory changes to personnel standards, cuts to laboratory reimbursement, and the current environment in Washington, myself and many other laboratorians find ourselves wishing we could have a larger impact on political issues, particularly with respect to those affecting our profession.
I frequently hear the phrase “I voted – but is there something more I can do right now?” Many of us may have also heard the term “PAC” used frequently during elections, but do you know what a PAC is, what it does, and most importantly, that ASCLS has one? A PAC, or Political Action Committee, is a voluntary, nonprofit organization that raises funds to financially support the campaigns of carefully selected candidates for elected office. The ASCLS/PAC is a Separate Segregated Fund, which means it receives donations from a limited group of individuals (in this case, ASCLS members), and then contributes to the campaigns of individuals who demonstrate a likelihood of supporting that organization’s issues. The ASCLS/PAC is overseen by a Board of Trustees, with one trustee from each of the ten ASCLS Regions, a new professional member, and a student member.
Congressional mid-term elections take place later this year and donating to the ASCLS/PAC is a way we can all do something more right now.
As medical laboratory professionals, it is part of our professional duty to advocate for our profession and for the patients we serve. Donating to the PAC is a simple way to do just that. It is important to note that ASCLS is the only laboratory organization with a PAC, and this PAC is a critical tool for gaining access and attention for laboratory issues. The more donations received, the more we can contribute, and the larger we can grow our too-often “behind-the-scenes” image in the public and legislative arenas.
The PAC has made donations to Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-MN), who is on the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), who chairs the House Committee of Veterans Affairs, and Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA), who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Both Roe and Ruiz are physicians who appreciate the value of laboratory services. All of these committees can be highly influential when it comes to many of the issues that face the laboratory profession - and it is a priority of the PAC to tie donations to the ASCLS legislative agenda.
The contributions went towards hosting campaign events that were attended by other healthcare groups, and went on to raise 10 to 15 times our initial contribution for their campaigns. This demonstrates the power that our PAC dollars can have. They won’t just remember ASCLS for contributing the $1,000 to host their events, but instead for the total amount raised for their respective campaigns.
The ASCLS/PAC has a fundraising goal of $50,000. This is an increase over the nearly $30,000 generously donated by ASCLS members in previous years, but it is most certainly attainable. If every ASCLS member donated just $20, we could triple that goal amount. Think of the vast impact we could have then!
While the current political scene may seem discouraging to many laboratorians, we don’t have to wait to make our voice heard – we ARE able to do something more right now! It’s been said that “politicians never stop campaigning,” and so, also, we as laboratorians should never stop campaigning for our profession and for our patients. As the ASCLS/PAC website states, “Now more than ever, laboratory professionals MUST take an active role to see that congressional reforms of American health care support cost-effective, high-quality clinical laboratory services.”
Please, take time to consider the opportunity we have to actively do something more right now by donating to the ASCLS/PAC. Donations can be made by visiting www.ascls.org. Note: You must be signed in on the ASCLS website before you can donate, donations are not tax deductible, and your decision whether to donate does not affect your rights as an ASCLS member in any way.