“The message that we’re sending resonated with the people we met with on both sides of the aisle,” Dr. Greeno says. “The SGR, for instance, they know there needs to be a fix. We want to serve as a resource for them as they start to figure out the answer to the question: What are we going to replace it with?
“What we want to do is make everybody on the Hill understand that we can be relied upon as a resource when they’re looking for solutions,” he says.
Focused on Follow-Up
And that’s where rank-and-filers, such as Dr. Hunter, have to take charge. So for his Hill Day visits, he tried to stand out. Everyone he met with got a lapel pin in the shape of a South Carolina state flag, which has become a popular fashion statement in recent years. And Scott also got a pin from Charleston Southern University, his alma mater. The gestures were small, but they served as icebreakers and reminders that Dr. Hunter and the people he met are bound by service to the residents of the Palmetto State.
Dr. Hunter also hopes the small token will be that little extra that makes him memorable enough that the next time a Congressional staffer has an SGR question, they’ll ask him and not a doctor from another specialty.
“I’m interested to see how much feedback I get back from them,” he says. “I can feed them all day long, but I don’t want to be that crazy guy bugging them. If they respond back to me, I can hopefully make more inroads.”
He certainly would if Dr. Greeno gets his way. Moving forward, SHM hopes to be able to rely more on local advocates pushing for reform than just a once-a-year major event and formal positions drafted by SHM’s staffers or the Public Policy Committee. Dr. Greeno says the physicians who participated in this year’s Hill trip are likely to find they will be asked to be the first cohort of a grassroots initiative meant to deliver the society’s message more routinely.
“These are not easy things to change because there are not easy solutions,” Dr. Greeno adds. “If you have just one meeting on the Hill, you’ll have no impact at all. You have to follow up. You have to do it consistently. And you have to have a consistent message. And we will.”
Richard Quinn is a freelance writer in New Jersey.