Before ACEP Lobby Day
What you need to know before the Capitol Hill meetings on Tuesday, May 3.
All meeting attendees will visit - either in person or virtually - with their Members of Congress and/or staff on Capitol Hill. These visits are a critical component of the ACEP Leadership and Advocacy Conference and help to educate legislators on emergency medicine issues and seek support for specific bills or legislative initiatives, while showing appreciation for past support.
PLEASE NOTE: ACEP will schedule your Capitol Hill meetings with legislators and staff through Soapbox Consulting., LLC. You will not need to contact your legislators’ offices directly regarding your appointments.
Not sure what to expect? You will be attending the meetings with other attendees from your state. ACEP, Soapbox and chapter leaders will put together advocacy teams with new attendees and veterans, many of whom have worked with your legislators and their staff over the years.
On Tuesday morning, you will receive advocacy training and a briefing on the issues prior to the Hill meetings, which will ensure that you are ready to carry a consistent, coordinated message to Congress on issues of importance to emergency medicine and patients.
Prior to the meeting, you will also be asked to download our Lobby Day app to help guide your day on Capitol Hill, and as a means for you to upload feedback and photographs from your day.
Helpful Hints for Capitol Hill Meetings
Know your lawmaker
The first step to successful communication is to know your lawmaker. This information will be provided on your Hill Visit schedules. You should be familiar with:
- Your lawmaker's political party.
- Legislative committees he or she serves on.
- Leadership positions he or she holds.
- Voting and co-sponsorship record on issues of importance to you.
- Personal facts (such as hometown, previous profession).
Address by title and last name
- "Senator" is always correct.
- "Representative" is always correct.
- "Congressman" is acceptable for a male -"Congresswoman" is acceptable for a female.
- "Mr. Chairman" or "Madam Chair" are appropriate — and show respect for a leadership position.
Staff are important — they are the "gateway" or "steel door" to the Member
- Often better versed on issues than Members.
- Young, but highly educated.
- Typically stay to meet with constituents when Members leave.
- Gain seniority quickly and often move from one Member office to another.
- Sensitive about their place in the hierarchy.
- A negative impression will get back to Members — Don't make a bad impression with them!
Time is crucial!
- Be on time; Call ahead if you are running late. However, expect delays!
- Members may be called for a vote at any time.
- Emergency meetings or negotiations may intrude.
Stay on message
- Congressional offices are VERY busy and meet with many people each day — don't waste their time!
- Keep the message simple. Briefly and succinctly talk about how an issue affects your practice and patients; give specific examples.
- Be credible. Members/staff often look to interest groups as a source of education. Don't misrepresent facts; don't misstate an opponent's position.
- Be sure to give the “leave behind” folder with ACEP issue papers to your lawmaker or to the staff person you are meeting with.
Other tips to a successful meeting
- Encourage questions. Afterward, follow up with any information that your lawmaker requested during the meeting, or if you are unable to provide it, let ACEP staff know so that we can follow up for you.
- Find out your lawmaker's position on an issue. Make your meeting an open exchange of ideas; be straightforward, but courteous in expressing your views.
- Ask for something specific. For example, "I hope you will co-sponsor HR 2519, the “Improving Mental Health Access from the Emergency Department Act of 2019, or “please consider the facts and reconsider your position on this bill.” Many lawmakers complain that many constituents never make it clear what they want. Thank the member or staff if they are already supporting issues that you are discussing.
- Thank the member for his or her time, even if he or she did not agree with you.
- Wrap up the meeting in about 15 minutes.
- Email, write or call legislators and staff to thank them for their time (if they don’t provide their business card, you can usually find them out at the front desk of the office). Remind them of anything they may have agreed to do and send additional information.
- Share the results of your meetings on the app and with your ACEP Government Affairs staff. Share insights you have gained about legislators' concerns and ask colleagues back home to get involved.
- Find out when the legislators will be in your home district hosting town hall meetings or forums and organize a group to attend. Ask if they have a health care advisory panel or group you can participate in back home.
- Maintain Communication with legislators and their staff through letters, phone calls and visits.
- Join your legislators’ Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.
NEVER discuss individual or ACEP’s political contributions through NEMPAC with the Member of Congress or their staff in the legislative office. It is against federal election laws to discuss campaign contributions of any form in a federal office.
After LAC – How to Continue Your Advocacy on behalf of Emergency Medicine and Patients
Five Ways to Get Involved Anytime, Anywhere
Advocacy is standing up and sharing your story for emergency medicine and patients. Having your voice heard is not only important to the specialty’s future, it’s easier than you may think! ACEP has created five simple ways to get involved in addition to attending the Leadership and Advocacy Conference:
- Join the ACEP 911 Network - the premier grassroots network for emergency physicians by signing up at www.acepadvocacy.org. You will receive a weekly email detailing what’s happening in Washington, DC on federal legislative and regulatory policy impacting emergency medicine and how you can advocate for your profession.
- Advocacy Action Center - stay informed and up to date on current legislation and policies affecting your practice by visiting acep.org/federal-advocacy.
- Raise Your Voice - policymakers want to hear from you! ACEP’s PR team can help you craft and share opinion pieces and letters to the editor about the college’s priority advocacy issues. Share how potential legislation may impact you, the profession and your patients. For more information contact email@example.com.
- Host an ED Tour - invite legislators and local officials for a tour of your emergency department and show them the challenges you face every day in providing care to thousands of their constituents. Exposing your elected officials to the people, places and health care delivery system that their legislation impacts is the best way to build lasting and meaningful relationships. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Become an ACEP Spokesperson - join ACEP’s Spokespersons’ Network and represent the college and the specialty of emergency medicine. As a spokesperson, you will receive communication training from ACEP’s PR team, and they will equip you to speak about ACEP’s clinical and policy positions to the media and general public. For more information contact email@example.com.
Get started and make an impact in your community, state or nationally: acepadvocacy.org.