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 31. The start of the traditional summer recess comes after--what both parties will tell you--was a tumultuous session dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, in August, members will hold town hall forums, listening sessions and other public events, mostly in a virtual setting, geared toward gauging constituent views and interests.
Doctors of chiropractic are especially encouraged to seek out their federal legislators at these virtual 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. 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:
- With the introduction last year of H.R. 3654, the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act, please focus on attending a virtual town hall meeting with your member of the House of Representatives. Please use our prepared talking points and ask your representative to cosponsor H.R. 3654. Simply put, the more cosponsors we have, the better the likelihood of our success.
- If your virtual town hall is 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 healthcare delivery system. Access the S. 30 talking points here.
- Sign on to the virtual meeting early. Town hall meetings using Zoom or some other virtual platform, 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 arrive to the virtual meeting early.
- Be polite and professional even if your 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 their 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:
Important tip: Once on your representative or senator’s webpage, sign up for email updates. This is often the best way to find out when virtual town hall meetings are taking place and how to participate.
Many offices release their recess schedule through their webpage, Facebook (see individual congressional website) or on Twitter, by going to http://www.tweetcongress.org/tweeters. Your local newspaper may also list virtual 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 Virtual Meeting
Talking Points on H.R. 3654 (for your personal use)
Issue Brief on H.R. 3654
Cost Effectiveness of Chiropractic
H.R. 3654 Home Page
Senate: Talking Points on S. 30, the Chiropractic Health Parity for Military Beneficiaries Act
If you can’t attend one of the public events, reach out to your representative’s district office staff and request a virtual 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.
John Falardeau is ACA senior vice president of public policy and advocacy. For additional information, please contact the American Chiropractic Association’s Department of Public Policy and Advocacy: (703) 812-0228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.