Meeting with a member of Congress or congressional staff is a very effective way to convey a message concerning a particular issue and allows a lawmaker to see you as a vital resource for healthcare issues. Further, meetings provide an opportunity to build a personal relationship with your lawmaker, which is an essential element of successful advocacy. Representatives spend a significant amount of time at home throughout the legislative calendar year. These times are ideal to schedule an appointment with your elected officials, and often they represent the most convenient time to meet with your member of Congress.
Remember, representatives want to hear your opinion, and they return home frequently to meet face-to-face with their constituents. Use this opportunity to initiate a relationship with your lawmaker!
Arranging and Conducting the Meeting
- Contact the Congressperson’s district office to schedule a meeting with the lawmaker. Don't be discouraged if it takes several invitations before the Congressperson accepts.
- Inform the member in advance about the purpose of the visit and the issues you want to discuss, such as the effect regulatory burdens have on practices. It’s okay if the Congressperson wants to discuss other topics about your practice and how it operates. This is a learning opportunity for them too.
- Schedules are tight, so be ready to act on short notice or weeks down the road. Lawmakers’ schedules can change at the last minute, if for instance they are needed for a vote back in Washington. Be prepared for schedule changes and a staff-only visit. Meetings with staff are still very valuable for information sharing and relationship building with the office.
- Familiarize yourself with the member’s general positions on healthcare topics by visiting their website.
- Your ultimate goal should be to build a lasting relationship with your lawmaker and to that end, this kind of face-to-face contact is invaluable. Be courteous, polite and prepared.
- Offer yourself as a resource and maintain the relationship by updating the member of Congress and designated staff on relevant legislative issues that are vital to your practice.
- Follow-up with a thank you card to show your gratitude to the lawmaker and staff for taking time out of their busy schedules to meet. In the card, again offer yourself as a resource.
- Debrief MGMA government affairs about your meeting to aid in our ongoing advocacy efforts.