Consumer outreach: Personalize the legislative impact

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Q. How can providers encourage their consumers to actively support HME legislation?

A. During visits to Capitol Hill this past spring, one provider put it this way: "One consumer's voice equals the input of 100 providers' voices when it comes to communicating HME funding needs to legislators."

The provider was right on the money. Legislators do truly recognize those with disabilities as the ultimate stakeholders in HME legislation and they listen to them when approached. However, the challenge remains in how do we, as an industry, galvanize consumers to provide their invaluable voices toward harmful legislation that could affect their access to HME goods and services?

First, it's vital that providers make consumers aware of any pending legislative issues--and do so on a regular basis. HME legislation isn't on the nightly news and most consumers only think of funding issues when it affects them personally. Therefore, using mailing lists and routine deliveries as an opportunity to provide a "call-to-action" flyer is an easy, inexpensive way to both inform and inspire consumers to personally contact their legislators and voice their concerns.

Second, when a consumer's funding source issues a denial, explain to him or her how legislative cuts played a role in the denial--and how other cuts may be on the horizon. When consumers personalize legislative impacts, they are far more likely to take action.

Lastly, let each consumer know that, despite previous legislative setbacks, positive change is still possible--that his or her single voice can make a profound difference moving forward. Encourage your consumers to get involved in advocacy events throughout the year like CELA and Medtrade's Consumer Advocacy Day. It's been said that revolutions don't occur based on injustice, but based on hope. Demonstrating hope motivates consumers to act.

Mark Smith is the consumer research manager for Pride Mobility Products Corp. Reach him at 800-800-8586 or