October 2, 2015
Visiting face-to-face with your members of Congress can be an effective way to voice issues affecting your pharmacy and your patients.
The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) can help you prepare for—and make the most of—your meeting.
Here are some pointers from NCPA to create a meaningful meeting with your legislators.
Call, fax or mail in an appointment request to the office of the legislator you wish to meet with. Be sure to include the issues you’d like to discuss in your request, and why you’d like to share the views of your pharmacy.
In your request, keep in mind that meetings are usually scheduled for 15 to 45 minute blocks. Be flexible with the times you offer in your appointment request, so you’ll be more likely to be scheduled for a meeting.
Contact the NCPA government affairs team in Washington, D.C. to let them know that you’ve scheduled a meeting. The team will provide you with information about your legislators and their positions on relevant issues.
Pick one or two topics you’d like to discuss during your meeting, and become well-versed on them before the appointment. Always ask the legislator to take a specific action, such as supporting or opposing a bill, or becoming a co-sponsor of a bill.
Consider creating a one-page document with information about your chosen issues, and include any charts, graphs or statistics needed to illustrate your viewpoints. Use this as a reference to guide you through the meeting, and plan to leave copies with the legislator and his or her staff.
Don’t be discouraged if an appointment is made with the legislator’s staff, or his staff shows up to an appointment that you scheduled with the legislator himself.
Legislators’ staff members are influential in the legislative process, well informed, and will pass on your information and concerns to the legislator.
Regardless of whether you meet with the legislator, a staff member, or both, remember to articulate your viewpoints clearly and calmly.
After greeting your legislator, don’t waste your short time together with small talk. Get right to the issue you’d like to discuss.
It’s fine to disagree with your legislator, but avoid ranting or becoming argumentative. Be prepared to answer questions about the information you’ve presented; legislators will be interested in your opinion as a health care provider and small business owner.
Whatever the tone of your meeting, remember to end it on a positive note. Leave your information with the legislator and encourage him or her to contact you as a professional resource for issues regarding health care.
Follow up with a thank you note that summarizes the main points of your discussion in the days after your meeting. This will remind your legislator’s office of the topics brought up in the meeting, and reiterate your passion and willingness to improve public health and small business issues in your community.
For guidance about meeting with your legislators, call the NCPA’s government affairs department at 703-683-8200.
Want to get involved in legislative action near you? Learn about the benefits of joining your state pharmacy association.