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This week, our Triangle MomsRising group made office visits to speak with Senator Kay Hagan's staff and Congressman Brad Miller in Raleigh, NC. It was my first Senate office visit and I was blown away by the powerful stories that our members shared.

It definitely made an impression on Senator Hagan's staff that many of us brought our kids along to the meeting. Just getting in the door through security was quite a task, but worth it, to make the point that our kids are their constituents, too. (I could not post photos here, but event organizer Jessica Burroughs has shared photos on the event summary page.)

The 18 members of our group, ranging from babies, to moms, grandparents, and a concerned male ally, told striking stories of why we need health care for all families. We shared our own experiences: a premature baby whose life was saved by expensive medical care; a baby born with a condition that required a breadwinner to quit her job, lose her insurance, and sell her home to pay medical bills; Moms as small business owners wanting the independent contractors who work with us to be able to buy insurance; the mother of a 27-year-old college graduate who sees her son working two jobs yet not provided health insurance; concerns about public health, with many serious illnesses going untreated; spouses with pre-existing conditions that mean that we are at risk for losing our health insurance, which would be disastrous.

As we went around the room, telling our individual stories, tears welled up in my eyes, from sadness and anger that we are not meeting the goal of providing basic health care for all. I truly believe that one of the best things about becoming a parent is that you develop empathy--you realize how any family could be vulnerable to losing health care and encounter disastrous consequences under our current system, and even if it doesn't happen to me, as a mother I find it completely unacceptable that it could happen to another family.

Senator Hagan's staff listened attentively and talked to us for quite a while, saying that our leaders really need to hear from us about our strong and unwavering support for health care reform. They asked us to talk about facts with people in our daily lives, and to counter myths that are taking a lot of the politicians' time away from the core debate. They asked us to think carefully about the political process and what compromises we might find acceptable in order to get any kind of reform passed now--the ongoing strategic question of whether to accept half a loaf now and get the rest later, or to go for the whole enchilada with no compromises.

Five moms and four kids continued the day's activism by calling on Congressman Brad Miller. Beth Messersmith, one of the intrepid Triangle MomsRising leaders, said that "Congressman Miller was pleased to meet with us and our children and glad to hear our stories. He seemed truly happy that we had brought the kids. He answered all of our questions with detailed information, and assured us that he was committed to making this happen. He truly seems to understand that this is a personal and moral issue for America's families."

So thank you goes out to our Triagle MomsRising leaders who pulled together these important visits that inspired me to do more outreach to all my representatives in Washington D. C. I hope that we will call on Senator Richard Burr, who is "strongly opposed" to President Obama's plan. This visit made me realize that it's important to let all our elected leaders know how we feel, and demand accountability for their stances, whether or not their views agree with ours. I don't want any Congressperson to be able to say, "All the calls I have received are opposing health care reform."

I was heartened to learn in a recent Fresh Air interview with T. R. Reid, author of the new book The Healing of America, that in Taiwan, when the country recently decided to overhaul their health care system, the issue became so important to the citizenry that both the conservative and liberal parties wanted to take credit for making it happen. Thinking about that during our visits to Raleigh inspired me to keep spreading our message forward, to not give up until we have health care for all families in the United States.


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