By Collin Brecher, VGM Government Relations
The success of independent suppliers of the DMEPOS industry across the nation seems to be completely at will to the decisions of CMS and the government. It is very easy for a provider to feel helpless and ask, “I am just one business, what could I possibly do to change the path that the industry is going down?” The answer to that question is simple, contacting elected officials at any level in government is one of the most beneficial things you, as a provider, could do.
One of the most common responses that the Government Relations team gets at the federal level is “I am not hearing from providers and beneficiaries what challenges they are facing.” This is a very winnable battle, whether it be an email, phone call, or contact through social media. Elected officials WANT to hear from their constituents and business owners which means providers stand to gain a lot of ground when contacting a Congressman or Senator. Here are the three key points to contacting your elected officials.
HOW: With advances in technology and the sweeping changes that social media has brought to Capitol Hill, accessing your elected officials is easier than ever. Nearly every member of Congress has social media accounts like Twitter or Facebook. Sending them a tweet or post on Facebook only takes a few moments and is a great way to get the conversation started about concerns of your business. These posts are a great stepping stone to begin sending emails, or a letter directly to your member of Congress and starting a dialogue with them.
WHAT: Members of Congress are representing hundreds of thousands of citizens from their respective states. This is a big reason it is easy to feel lost in such a large crowd of people. Fear not, your voice can still easily be heard. Your Congressman may be more accessible than you might think. Townhall meetings and events happen all over the state at times like Congress’s August Recess, when members of Congress have an entire month dedicated to being back home. The main purpose of the month long break is for officials to hear the concerns of everyday citizens. This is a great time to meet with them in person. Congressmen also have staff members specialized in the healthcare industry that are just as beneficial to beginning that crucial dialogue. Asking for a few minutes of time with a staff member of your member of congress and bringing in concise and direct bullet points of what issues you face goes a long way.
WHY: Contacting your Congressman and Senator is greatly influential and you stand to gain a great relationship with them. A study from the Congressional Management Foundation found that “64% of the senior managers and social media managers surveyed think Facebook is a somewhat or very important tool for understand constituent views and opinions.” Contacting through Twitter was not far behind at just under 50%. What these posts and tweets can lead to is the best contact of all, a face to face meeting with the Congressman or his trusted staff. One of the greatest successes that is common to see is congressional offices relying on the input of providers how different bills could affect their business.
All that it takes to build that relationship is to reach out and start the dialogue. The VGM Government Relations team is more than happy to assist you in contacting your members of Congress and coordinating a meeting with them. If you are planning on attending the 2015 Heartland Conference please stop by the Government Relations booth and start the dialogue during our “August of Action.”