National Call To Action:
Talk to Congress During August Recess
Congress has adjourned for a month-long August recess to allow Representatives and Senators to return to their home states and district and meet with constituents about the lengthy agenda of critical issues facing the country. This is a critically important time for pediatric nurse practitioners to get involved â€“ meeting with members of Congress, inviting them to visit your practice, attending town hall meetings, and getting letters to the editor in local newspapers. The objective is simple â€“ to educate your members of Congress about who PNPs are and about the vital services your provide to your patients (their constituents).
There are lots of issues to discuss with your legislators â€“ they will be facing important decisions on legislation to authorize nurse practitioners to order home health services in Medicare, improve access to NPs for Medicaid enrollees, and provide adequate funding to support NP education and workforce development. NAPNAP is providing a â€œtoolkitâ€ with updates on specific issues to discuss with legislators and ideas for giving them a better appreciation of what you do and how they can support legislation and policies that will help you practice to the full extent of your ability to provide better health care for your patients.
But the key to success is developing a relationship with your members of Congress â€“ your phone calls, emails, and letters will have much greater impact if they recognize who you are and how important nurse practitioners are to improving our health care system.
Getting involved is easier than you think â€“ your legislators want to hear from you, especially with the 2012 election only months away. Here are the top five ways to get to know your members of Congress during the August recess:
- Invite your members of Congress to your practice
- There is no better way to demonstrate what you do for patients than to have your legislator see your practice first-hand and talk with your patients. Contact your legislatorsâ€™ district office (the phone number will be in your local directory) and ask to speak with the scheduler or the district administrator. Explain your invitation and offer a number of possible dates and times.
- Schedule a meeting with your members of Congress
- . If you can't get them into your practice, the next best thing is for you to meet personally with your legislators in their office. Choose one or two issues before Congress as the focus for the meeting at but recognize that the real importance is building a relationship with the legislator and helping her or him to understand what PNPs do. Again, contact the local scheduler or district administrator to schedule a meeting.
- Attend a town hall meeting
- Most members of Congress will hold numerous town hall meetings during the recess â€“ either in person or by conference call. But donâ€™t just attend the town hall meeting â€“ go early, get a good seat, and be prepared to ask a question related that would allow you to introduce yourself and explain what nurse practitioners do. Stay after the event to shake hands with your legislator â€“ and look for local news reporters interested in interviewing people about the meeting.
- Attend a political event or fundraiser
- Many members of Congress will already be gearing up for the 2012 election campaign. If you support your member of Congress, consider attending a campaign event, contributing to the campaign, or volunteering to help in the campaign. (If you support your legislatorâ€™s opponent, consider doing the same things â€“ all candidates need to understand and value nurse practitioners.) Running for office is very difficult and very expensive; candidates remember the folks back home who are willing to be active supporters.
- Write a letter to the editor or opinion column
- Members of Congress always pay attention to coverage in the local news media, especially when they are back home and see the news themselves. A letter to the editor that explains what nurse practitioners do and how policies affect your patients will get noticed. This is a great way to publicly ask your legislator to cosponsor important legislation or take action on critical issues â€“ and to publicly thank your legislator if he or she has been a supporter of nurse practitioners.
One last, but very important thing to do â€“ let NAPNAP know what actions you take during the recess and how your members of Congress respond to them. This information is critical for our representative in Washington, Dave Mason, to be able to follow up with the legislator and his or her staff on Capitol Hill to reinforce your message and make sure your member of Congress follows through on his or her August recess promises. Please let us know by sending a quick email to Health Policy Chair Mary Chesney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for any and all actions you take to advance our health policy agenda for childrenâ€™s health and nurse practitioners.