Congress continues to make health policy decisions that directly affect you and your patients. It is critical that rheumatology professionals speak up about patient access to quality care, physician payment reform, research funding, and the multitude of concerns you and your colleagues face every day. Congress is on summer recess August 8–September 5, so now is the perfect time to reach out to your legislators and educate them on issues affecting the rheumatology community.
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Explore This IssueAugust 2011
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Members of Congress are often rushing between committee hearings and votes when they are in Washington, D.C. When they are home for recess, the pace is slower, giving them more time to spend with you, their constituent. Here are a few ways to interact with your lawmakers during the summer recess.
- Schedule an in-person meeting. Do you think your opinion doesn’t matter to your members of Congress? A recent survey of 260 congressional staffers conducted by the Congressional Management Foundation found that constituent visits to the district/state office have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided lawmaker (94%). Call the district office and schedule a meeting to discuss the importance of access to osteoporosis testing, maintaining research funding, and other issues that affect you and your patients. That meeting could convince your member of Congress to support your issues.
- Invite them to your office. Most members of Congress are not aware that rheumatologists receive years of additional training to provide specialized care to patients with arthritis and rheumatic conditions. What better way to educate those who develop health policy than to show them? Send your legislators an invitation to visit your office. This will provide an opportunity to build a relationship with your members of Congress and allow them to see firsthand the valuable, quality care you provide for your patients. Visit the ACR’s advocacy website for a sample invite letter.
- Attend a town hall meeting. With four weeks of summer recess, your members of Congress will be holding multiple town hall meetings. Town hall meetings give legislators the chance to hear from constituents on multiple issues being discussed in Congress. These meetings provide a great opportunity for you to engage in a conversation with your legislators about the current state of health policy and the future of medicine. Legislators often post upcoming events on Facebook or Twitter. You can also call the district office nearest you to find a town hall schedule.
Remember that members of Congress are elected to represent you and it is your voice that influences them the most. Who better to educate Congress about the unique issues facing the rheumatology community than those who are on the front lines? However you decide to interact with your legislators over summer recess, know that you are making a difference for your profession and your patients.