Don’t Get Mad, Get Even: Political Advocacy

Last December, after months of “planning to,” I finally got around to calling to my state senator to set up a meeting before the legislature convened.

“Hello, my name is Dr. Y, I am a constituent and I would like to set up a meeting with Senator X in the district.”

“You know the session starts in 3 weeks.”

“Yes, I do”

“You know Christmas is in 2 weeks.”

“Yes, I do.”

“You know she’s very busy.”

Yes, I do.  I will be at the Capitol on the first day of the Legislature.  Is her legislative aide for health affairs available instead?”

“Yes.  I will ask her to contact you to set up a time to meet.”

When I met with the legislative aide several weeks later, we had a productive conversation.  She had worked on health affairs for another state senator before.  I pitched our bill to restore funding to family medicine graduate medical education and the physician loan repayment program to help place doctors in underserved areas.  We had been instructed to ask our senators to support the bill and cosponsor it if possible.  I thought, ‘What the heck, nothing to lose by asking.’  I was told that the Senator was interested in health care issues and she would get back to me with the senator’s answer.  I also forwarded a map of the senate district with all the medically underserved areas and primary care physician to population ratios labeled.

A few weeks later, she emailed me to say that the Senator had decided to support the bill.  Ok, I thought, she’ll vote for it when it is heard in committee.  A few days later I saw that she was listed as a cosponsor!  With 2 of the committee members listed as cosponsors, our chances of getting the bill out of committee looked much better.

Politics can be frustrating, but persistence pays off.  And you have nothing to lose by asking.

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