By John Falardeau
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are slated to head home to their districts and states on July 26. The start of the traditional summer recess comes after, what both parties will tell you, was a less than productive session, leaving several issues unresolved. Nonetheless, in August, members will hold town hall forums, listening sessions and other public events geared toward gauging constituent views and interests.
Doctors of chiropractic are especially encouraged to seek out their federal legislators at these public town hall meetings because they are a great way to begin establishing a relationship, or strengthening an existing one, with your lawmaker's office. Town hall meetings are free and open to the public. Typically, the legislator will make some remarks about what is happening on Capitol Hill and specifically about what he or she has accomplished or is working on. In addition, there is usually time set aside for questions and answers.
If you’ve never attended a town hall meeting before—or even if you’re a seasoned pro—it might feel a bit intimidating. Here are several tips to help you navigate the political town halls:
- If you meet with a senator, urge them to cosponsor S. 30, the Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act. This bill would allow military retirees, National Guard personnel and reservists to access the chiropractic benefit through Tricare, the Defense Department health care delivery system. Access the S. 30 Issue Brief here and leave a copy with your senators.
- Arrive early. Town hall meetings are often very crowded, and you do not want to disturb the meeting after it has started. Also, you may have a better opportunity to ask your question and speak with your member of Congress after the event if you are seated near the front of the hall.
- Be polite and professional even if your senator, representative or other town hall attendees disagree with your position. Stick to the facts, even if others don’t.
- Follow up with the member of Congress and his/her staff. Call or e-mail the office after the town hall meeting to offer additional resources or ask follow-up questions about the issues that were discussed.
- Above all, be visible. Let your legislators know that doctors of chiropractic and the services they provide are an important part of the healthcare delivery system in your community.
Find Out Where Your Representatives and Senators Will Be:
Many offices release their recess schedule through their webpage, Facebook (see individual congressional website) or on Twitter. Your local newspaper may also list town hall schedules. Check your legislator’s webpage (linked above) for the most up-to-date schedule and information.
Information You Need to Have for a Successful Meeting
Talking Points on H.R. 3654 (for your personal use)
Issue Brief on H.R. 3654 (leave a copy with your House member)
Cost Effectiveness of Chiropractic (leave a copy with your House member)
House “Dear Colleague” letter (leave a copy with your House member)
H.R. 3654 Home Page
Senate: Issue Brief on S. 30, the Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act (leave a copy with your senators)
IMPORTANT: If you can’t attend one of the public events, reach out to your representative’s district office staff and request a meeting. Again, representatives are much more accessible during the summer recess than at any other time of the year. Please let ACA staff know, using the email address below, if you talk to your representative about H.R. 3654 at a public forum or at their local office this summer.
For additional information, please contact the American Chiropractic Association’s Department of Public Policy and Advocacy: (703) 812-0228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Falardeau is ACA’s senior vice president of public policy and advocacy.