It’s August, which means that members of Congress have headed back to their districts to meet with constituents and campaign for reelection. Many members of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recognize that this is a great time to host fundraisers for legislators who have demonstrated their concern for and have been willing to “stick their neck out” for orthopaedic issues.
Opportunities to communicate
The August recess is also a good time to schedule an appointment through the legislator’s local district office. Unscheduled visits to an office are welcome, but may not result in direct access to the legislator.
Meetings with a legislator or member of his or her staff can be as brief as 10 or 15 minutes. The AAOS has developed an Issues Guide and ‘one-pagers’ on a variety of topics. These materials can be used to quickly and efficiently make a point, and they provide a resource for the legislator after the visit. The AAOS Issues Guide, issue one-pagers, and further information about issues are available through the AAOS office of government relations; email requests to email@example.com
Many legislators will schedule events throughout their districts to meet and talk with constituents during the August recess. These events can include town halls, tele-town halls, office hours, “coffee on the corner,” and much more. These events are often posted on the legislator’s website, but a phone call to the local district office can verify that an event is being held nearby.
Many legislators also have newsletters and social media accounts, such as Facebook and Twitter pages, which provide constituents with information on upcoming events.
Don’t close the door
August is also an important time for constituents to schedule a meeting with or attend a town hall hosted by a legislator who holds opposing views on some topics. Of the 535 members of Congress, only 20 are physicians. This means that many legislators have not experienced the challenges of practicing medicine and may not be aware of the issues affecting patients and the orthopaedic community. Remember, the goal is not to agree on all of the issues, but getting to know a legislator may result in a “yes” vote on a future pro-orthopaedic piece of legislation and open avenues of influence on future issues.
Madeleine Lovette is the communications specialist in the AAOS office of government relations; she can be reached at Lovette@aaos.org