Work both paths

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Q. How can I work on a long-term relationship with my representative when we need to lobby for immediate changes to Medicare policy?

A. We are constantly faced with having to follow two paths to get to one end result, and lobbying is no different. But lobbying for changes we need now can also be stepping stones to long-term relationships with your legislators. All contact with legislators should serve a purpose. Since we must ask for immediate action to address immediate problems, use those short-term efforts to your advantage, while continuing to work on developing long-term relationships.

So don’t worry about one path affecting the other. The biggest mistake you could make would be not following either one. It’s simple: Begin developing your long-term plans by showing up to meet legislators the next time they are in their home districts. This is the strategy for the future. 

While you’re doing that, still ask your legislators for support for short-term goals by making the calls, e-mails, and faxes suggested by industry leaders. This gives you the chance to tell your personal story and express your  views of the issues. These then become the foundation to help you when you meet them in their home districts in the future. Most importantly, you are involved in the effort to change political minds.

This way, you’re working both paths and it will take a lot of providers working both paths to ensure that we are able to get the change we need for our future. Doing nothing is not an option. 

Wayne Stanfield is president and CEO of NAIMES. Reach him at 434-572-9457 or