Ten Strategies for a Successful Day at the Capitol

1. Be Prepared

Most people do not approach their legislators with a well-researched presentation. Physicians should have thoughtful arguments prepared.

2. Tell a Personal Story

Members of the General Assembly are always looking for firsthand accounts of the impact that policies will have on their constituents. In advance of your meeting(s), think of how a policy might affect you or your family, patients, practice and/or community.

3. Be Passionate and Positive

No matter how passionate you are about an issue, try and present your concerns in a positive manner. Be knowledgeable about both sides of an issue so that you can be empathetic to the issues of others, yet firm in your own beliefs. Remember, many of those you will be talking with do not share your political ideals. Your job is to show them the other side of the story!

4. Use Statistics

Politicians live for one thing: To know their decision will have the support of more than 50 percent of their constituents. They also like to know how many individuals you represent. Please see the examples below:

  • “I have 10 employees.”
  • “I represent 50 physicians in my area.”
  • “More than 900 families in my community will be affected by this legislation.”

5. Be Respectful

Be sure to start conversations in a positive and respectful manner, always expressing gratitude for their time.

6. Bring a Colleague

When physicians take time from their busy schedules to visit with legislators, it makes an impression. Having multiple physicians at the Capitol speaking on the same issues demonstrates that ideas and opinions are not limited to individuals, but impact a larger group.

7. Bring Your Business Card

Provide your card to the legislator and welcome his/her call on legislative issues on health care. Legislators frequently only hear one side of an issue. It is important for a legislator to have a physician they can contact for an opinion.

8. Follow Up

Following your visit to the Capitol, contact the legislator with a letter to thank him/her for taking the time to meet with you. If there is legislation you have discussed, call to determine its progress. Demonstrate your continued interest.

9. Deliver a Consistent Message

Physicians need to be united on major health care issues and deliver a consistent message. Hearing the same ideas and opinions from physicians from all areas of the state and from different specialties is extremely important. It signals to a legislator that there could be a serious issue that needs to be addressed.

10. Be Persistent

If you continue to show your interest with calls, letters and/or emails, the legislator is likely to understand that you will be monitoring his/her position and he/she will likely take your issue(s) more seriously.