Nine members of SHM’s Public Policy Committee (PPC), accompanied by several SHM staff members, paid a visit to Capitol Hill early this year.
The group spent Feb. 28 calling on senators, representatives, and congressional staff, as they participated in meetings similar to those included in SHM’s Legislative Advocacy Day, held during the 2006 Annual Meeting. In fact, many of the PPC members had second meetings with legislative staff they had met last May.
“We had already broken some ground with Legislative Day, so some people were familiar with us,” says Ron Angus, MD, Department of Medicine, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas. “We had a little more time to talk about the issues.”
During their meetings, “We emphasized the different roles that SHM can play, and we tried to get a feel for what it means to have a Democrat-led Congress,” says Jack Percelay, MD, MPH, FAAP, Virtua Health, Ridgewood, N.J.
SHM’s senior adviser for advocacy and government affairs, Laura Allendorf, pronounces it “a very productive day.”
Building on a Foundation
The PPC visits were successful partly because this was the second time SHM had visited representatives, allowing the hospitalists to build on their introductory meetings and spend more time discussing issues and offering help. The committee hopes to continue this trend.
“In the long term, we want to see if we can meet with the same people more frequently,” explains Dr. Angus. Allendorf agrees, saying, “The more often we’re up there, the better.”
There may be many more visits or communications. “I think we’re building something long-term, and it’s going to take a while to do that,” says Dr. Angus. “As we get more comfortable talking to these folks, we’ll work on getting them to contact us when issues first come up. Our goal is to be there at the beginning of the process, rather than the end, when it’s too late to have much impact.”
Another reason the February visits were deemed a success involves whom the PPC met with.