Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2019 - 35

Legislators at both the state and federal levels soon discover
that voting on legislation and enacting new laws are not the
most critical elements of their job. In fact, the days they
spend either in Harrisburg or Washington, DC are likely
their least productive. In comparison, a day spent meeting
with constituents in their district can pay significant political
dividends. So while they may not eagerly anticipate a full
schedule of constituent meetings, they do understand the
inherent value of learning which issues are on their constituents'
minds.

For the constituent, the district meeting is equally
important. It presents a unique opportunity to personally
discuss a key issue and advocate for or against specific legislative
action in almost a "safe zone," far away from the busy schedule
of a session day under the capitol dome. In fact, that makes it
valuable to both the legislator and constituent alike.

Physicians should know that there are a few common sense principles to guide them as they prepare for a successful
meeting with their legislator:
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All Politics is Local - Being a constituent from the legislator's district is important.
Voters are Invested - Being a registered and regular voter, regardless of your party affiliation is equally important.
Confirm the Meeting - Once the date, time & place are set, contact the legislator's office to confirm the meeting
24-48 hours in advance. Be prepared to provide the names of those expected to attend and the primary issues
to be discussed.
Research - If you are discussing a specific legislative bill, go online and see if the legislator is already a sponsor
or if he/she serves on the committee that may consider the bill.
Follow Policy - If you are representing an organization, know their policy on the bill or issue. Enhance the
discussion with your own views and insights, but don't create new policies (or problems).
Ignore Party Labels - Most important legislation passes with bi-partisan support. It's not important that the
legislator you visit is in the majority party, all legislators have a vote.
Ask, Don't Tell - It is important to "ask" for help in addressing an issue or problem, without "telling" the
legislator what he/she "must" do.
Questions - If the legislator has questions, don't invent answers. Find the appropriate response and contact the
office with your follow up answer.
Thank You - A brief email of thanks is always appreciated. And, if you are asking for a vote for or against a bill -
and the legislator makes that vote - make sure that you express your appreciation in a letter or email.
Staff are Important - Meetings in either Washington, DC or Harrisburg are typically held on days when the
legislator's schedule is driven by the committee meetings and voting schedule set by leadership. Having a
key staffer sit in for your legislator, or having the legislator quickly stop for an introduction, actually signifies the
importance of your meeting.
Share - If you are representing an organization, the leaders and professional staff of the group
will be anxious to hear from you following the meeting.

Keep in mind that the final basic principle is to plan a next meeting,
either to follow up on your issue or to explore common ground on
other health care policy matters. If the goal is to establish a
relationship, then it is critical that you don't show up only
for the big ask on a pending bill.
And remember that the relationship is as important
for the legislator as it is for you.

SUMMER 2019

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Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2019

Berks County Medical Society Medical Record Summer 2019 - 1
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