Lobbying: Emphasize impact on constituents

Q. Why is it important to build a relationship with my elected officials?
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A. A wise consultant in our industry once said that if a portion of your business is funded by the federal or state government, it is important to develop a relationship with the people who influence policy—your elected officials. They need to hear from you for a few reasons. 

First, they don’t know what you do. Sure, they may have some understanding of what home medical equipment is but more often than not they don’t. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve attended where they get us confused with medical devices or home health agencies. They need to know everything your company does to keep their constituents safe at home and all the services that are involved to accomplish that. CMS is trying to make us a commodity industry. Your congressmen/senators need to know that you are not.

Second, they need to be aware of any legislation that has been introduced and how it will improve your ability to take care of their constituents. You can tell them about the impact on your business but they are more concerned about any negative impact on their constituents.

And don’t just establish a relationship with the congressmen/senators themselves, although that’s important. Having a relationship with the person in their office who handles Medicare policy issues is critical. In many instances, these are the people who need to be convinced because they are trusted and can exert influence on the member of Congress.

It takes times to build these relationships, so start today.

Karyn Estrella, CAE, is the executive director of the Home Medical Equipment & Services Association of New England (HOMES). Reach her at karyn@homene.org or 508-993-0700.