Contact Your Representative
Your elected officials need to hear from you! Legislators are greatly influenced by what they know and opinions they hear - especially from the people they represent. By communicating with a state legislator or a member of Congress,
you can have a profound impact on the government policies that most affect your specialty.
They hear from constituents and special interest groups about many diverse issues ranging from education to transportation to foreign policy. They also need to hear from physicians that treat people with disabilities and chronic conditions. Do not assume they know all the facts or challenges for these patients in your community. It is incumbent upon you to provide them with the information they need to fully understand.
You should communicate with legislators from around your state, not just the elected representative from your district. It is important to represent the people you treat.
#1: Find out who represents you!
The beginning of a new Congress is an ideal time to introduce (or reintroduce) Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, but it is never too late to educate your representative.
- Send an email or letter introducing yourself and educating on the specialty of physiatry. Let the representative know that you are able to answer questions and comment on issues relating to PM&R.
- Create a relationship with your member of Congress.
- Extend an invitation for a visit to your practice/facility.
#2: Keep your legislators informed about your practice and facility.
Find opportunities to send positive articles and information about PM&R (such as press clips, success stories, etc.) a few times a year.
#3: Communicate clearly about relevant legislation – do not assume that they know where you stand.
Communicate if you are for or against a piece of legislation. Thank the legislator for supporting any relevant legislation.
#4: Choose a communication method that fits the urgency of the issue.
Communication methods receive different priority levels on Capitol Hill. The best way to communicate is in person. We understand that it may be hard to visit the Hill to discuss issues, so alternate ways to communicate (in order of priority) are
- In Person – in person meetings are the most effective.
- Telephone Calls – Phone calls are effective because they provide an opportunity to talk directly to the staff, which reinforces your relationship with the office.
- Email – Email is particularly effective if you communicate directly through a staff’s individual email address, or if you are mobilizing a large number of people through the legislator’s
- Fax – While an old school method, faxed letters can be effective as they are likely to be given to the legislative staff immediately.
- Letter Writing – Use letters primarily to accompany information packets, articles, etc. because postal mail arrives slowly to Capitol Hill offices.