By Jack Dusik
AS YOU HAVE FOLLOWED THIS COLUMN, you’ve likely picked up on the role that you, as a member of ACA’s grassroots team, play in advancing chiropractic in Congress. One of the greatest opportunities to tell the profession’s powerful story is to participate in ACA’s annual National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC), which includes an advocacy day on Capitol Hill.
During this year’s advocacy day, some 700 doctors of chiropractic (DCs) and students visited with elected officials in Congress to discuss a host of issues requiring action, including the enactment of legislation to achieve full physician status for DCs in Medicare; fully integrating services provided by DCs in the Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense health systems; and opening the National Health Service Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps to DCs who have been arbitrarily prevented from participating in these programs.
The evening before, in recognition of the vital role that DCs play in the delivery of high-quality care in America’s ever-burdened health system, NCLC attendees were in the presence of numerous members of Congress during the NCLC Congressional Reception held in the Rayburn House Building on Capitol Hill, who came to voice their proud support of the profession and iterate the need for ACA’s leadership.
Momentum Continues to Build
ACA’s grassroots advocacy was a success! As a direct result of the nearly 300 meetings in the House and Senate with members of Congress and their staff, we were able to make the case for chiropractic, and bills supported by ACA picked up several cosponsors, helping to build momentum for action.
However, as big an accomplishment as this day on Capitol Hill was, the work of relationship building and turning of commitments into concrete support of the profession continues long after the initial contact is made. The next critical step in ensuring your service as an ACA grassroots advocate was well spent is following up on the valuable relationships you developed during your visits on Capitol Hill.
And so, to drive home the message we seek to deliver and to maximize your effectiveness as an advocate, there are several follow-up actions you can take.
First, if you have not done so already, please take a moment to provide feedback to ACA’s public policy and advocacy team. This is important since one of the qualities that distinguishes strong advocacy efforts from weak ones is close coordination between grassroots and professional advocates. After meeting with a legislator or staff person, it is essential that you provide feedback on the outcome of the meeting so that ACA’s professional advocates can ensure that commitments made during your meetings are acted on. To provide feedback, visit www.acatoday.org/nclc/advocacy/feedback, where you will be prompted to complete the NCLC 2016 debriefing form.
Second, send a follow-up letter to the member of Congress or an email to the staff member you met with thanking them for their time. Restate your position or “ask,” and attach any follow-up information you promised. Extend an offer to be a health care resource in the district that the member of Congress and staff can count on. If you’d like an example of an effective message you can tailor for your specific needs, please contact ACA’s public policy and advocacy team at email@example.com and a template will be sent to you.
Finally, cultivate your new or renewed relationship with the staff throughout the year by touching base periodically by phone and email.
By taking these simple, yet vital, steps, you will not only urge members of Congress to act on the many issues you advocated during your visit, but you will also be laying the groundwork for their continued support, especially when we turn to them for support on issues that haven’t yet appeared on the horizon.
In closing, thank you for all of the hard work you do on behalf of the profession, your colleagues and the students seeking to continue in your path as the next generation of chiropractic advocates.
As a direct result of the nearly 300 meetings in the House and Senate with members of Congress and their staff, we were able to make the case for chiropractic, and bills supported by ACA picked up several cosponsors, helping to build momentum for action.
Jack Dusik is ACA’s senior director, federal government relations, of the public policy and advocacy department.