I had a great time in Washington last month, and PT Hill Day was a big success, but only the first step to getting legislation passed that helps support our profession and improves access to care. Congress is on recess from August 3rd through September 4th, so here is your chance to get to know your state senator or local house representative! Below are a few tips on how to make a lasting impression on your legislator:
- Invite a lawmaker to visit your worksite! Practice visits are one of the most effective and easy ways to educate legislators about what your do and the powerful effect PT can have on the quality of life for their constituents. It’s a great way to show off the education and experience of PTs and PTAs who are advocating for their patients. The APTA has a very nice booklet outlining practice visit “Dos and Don’ts” that can be accessed here: http://www.apta.org/TakeAction/PracticeVisit/
- Meet your legislator face-to-face by setting up a meeting. To find out who your legislator is or how to contact his office to make an appointment, visit www.house.gov. Not sure what to say? The APTA can help you out; check out FAQs on the APTA Advocacy website: http://www.apta.org/Advocacy/. I was nervous too, but actually it was pretty easy and empowering.
Town Hall Meetings
- These will already be set up by your legislators as a way for them to tell their constituency how hard they have been working in Washington, and to invite the public to share issues of concern. All you have to do is find out when and where the meeting is, and show up with a large group of PT and PTA friends. A group of 10-20 therapists asking questions at a Town Hall Meeting will make a lasting impression on any legislator.
- Legislators hold fundraising events during the late summer recess, so it is a great time to attend fundraisers for legislators supportive of PT issues. We want these guys and gals re-elected. Fundraisers cost money to attend, however the PT-PAC can provide financial assistance for APTA members who want to attend campaign fundraisers for their home state lawmakers. It is more effective and important to have YOU, the working PT constituents, attend your legislators’ events in their home state than it is to have professional lobbyists attend in Washington, and usually much less expensive, too. In the end, it is YOUR vote that matters to the legislator. If you want to attend a fundraiser for a local politician supportive of our profession, then contact Mike Matlack at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on getting involved in PT-PAC activities.
Don’t be shy, jump in and make your voice heard! We need all of your state and local legislators’ support.