My lobbyist tour guide, Jack, and I arrived early and took some of the first seats, ideal for a great view of the whole room. We watched people filter in and most had several people to greet. Serious conversations about bills that needed attention mingled with light-hearted conversations about children, vacation, and "finding a new career." Few people in the room were average citizens, like me. Primarily the room filled with professional lobbyists, the representatives, and their sponsored pages.
With no mental effort, Jack pointed out to me the major players in the room. He provided the organization(s) they lobbied for, their common position on their particular healthcare issue, and several key personality traits. It was fascinating but something in the back of my brain was itching. I continued to scan the room for a familiar face. After all, this was a discussion on healthcare and I had been around the block long enough to know a good amount of the "big wigs" in local healthcare.
None of the big wigs I knew were there. How could we be discussing these things without those in the field, those living these issues, weighing in? Where were the practicing professionals? Where were the head of the coalitions? Where were the advocates who watch over the benefit of their clients? They were not there, they were working.
It struck me in that moment what an insulated world this place of government truly is. The professionals pushing the agendas are not the same professionals living the experience of healthcare; from a professional or patient point of view. These conversations were lacking. They needed the input of these leaders. Something was wrong with this picture. There is a big, important disconnect between those making the policies and those living within them.