Lobbying: Roll up your sleeves

Q. If I’m a member of my HME trade association, why do I have to get involved with lobbying?
Monday, December 1, 2014

A. First, if you are a member of your state/regional and national HME association—thank you. We all know there is strength in numbers. When you join your trade association, you are helping support their activities, which include lobbying.

When it comes to lobbying, there is a partnership between the association and its members. Each has its role to play. Your association is the repository and disseminator of the information you need to understand legislation, such as position papers, talking points, etc. The association works with its members to schedule meetings with members of Congess. In many cases, the association’s staff may attend these meetings with members. 

The reason your involvement is so critical is that you are the constituent. Your association will not have the same influence as you. Of all the meetings I have attended over the years, it is the meetings with our members telling their stories that have had the most impact. I have personally seen the difference in the demeanor of the congressman and/or their staff when I am discussing the issues versus when it is one of our members. They need to hear your passion.

Additionally, it is critical after the meeting to continue to communicate with your congressman and keep the pressure on. There have been many times where we will have (what we consider to be) a positive meeting and we think he will sign the bill; only to see weeks later that he has not. You know how they say that if you don’t document something it never happened? Well, if you don’t follow up, it is not going to happen. It is those consistent touches that have an impact.

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