The Case For ArMA Advocacy: Unique, Powerful, and Specialized
The advocacy work of the Arizona Medical Association is not intended to benefit just one medical specialty. It does not represent the interests of hospitals. ArMA does not exist to address the concerns of nurses, or pharmacists, or any other professionals in the healthcare debate. ArMA advocacy has only one mission: to represent the interests of its member physicians and the patients they serve.
While on many occasions interests of various stakeholders in the healthcare debate do overlap, there are times when physicians must act independently to protect the House of Medicine. When this occurs—especially in the political process—it is essential that collective action be as unified, clear, and impactful as possible. This is what ArMA does. Your participation is critical to making it all happen.
Thanks to you, ArMA is uniquely positioned as a powerful advocate that exclusively specializes in protecting and strengthening the physician practice. ArMA membership is committed to the common truth that all physicians must work together to advance mutual interests. Without this show of unity and strength, all physicians are threatened, either directly or indirectly. To protect and strengthen your professional future, ArMA advocacy is essential.
Advocacy Basics: Prepare and Make a Connection
- Make an appointment with the bill sponsor(s), legislator(s), or other government officials and arrive on time.
- Do some online research on who you plan to meet with: background, personal interests, etc. Make note of any commonalities you may share with them.
- Know where the bill is in the legislative process. Contacting a legislator in one house while the bill is in the other house isn't going to help you much. Is the bill on a committee agenda? Has it come out of a committee and is now headed to the floor? You can call or email an ArMA staff if unsure.
- Bring a copy of the bill to leave behind, with your suggested changes or comments written in the margins.
- Prepare a few talking points. Discuss the legislator's position on the bill and offer your position succinctly. Your personal experience can be the most effective in these moments.
- If you face disagreement, listen intently and try to understand the other position(s).
- Whenever possible, provide real-world and clinical examples to support your points. Showing cause and effect, and particularly how the issue affects patient care, is powerful.
- Come as a group if possible—there is power in numbers!
Make a Connection
- Generally, you have the most influence with legislators from your own legislative district.
- Illustrate your points as clearly and sensibly as possible. Package your arguments as something the listener can easily relate to and repeat to other legislators and constituents.
- Don't argue—be friendly and respectful. Above all, it's important to "lose" gracefully. You must leave both the conversation and the relationship open to future dialog. The policymaking process is often long and has many twists and turns. People can and do change their minds.
- When speaking, allow time for the legislator's questions, statements, and general responses.
- Have a "leave behind:" a summary of your position(s), a marked-up copy of the legislation, or contact information.
- Follow up with a thank-you email or note, offering to provide additional information in the future.
- Strive to establish a reputation for credibility and thoughtfulness. Ultimately, the goal over time is to become a policymaker’s trusted source for credible and fair counsel on healthcare issues.
The Request To Speak System: An Easy To Use Advocacy Tool
- The Request To Speak (RTS) System is an invaluable part of legislative advocacy. You can make a difference without even leaving your home or office!
- The RTS System allows you to register your support or opposition to legislation and provide comments.
- Legislators use the RTS System to get an idea of a bill's merits and the public's position on issues.
- Individuals must sign up on the RTS System to be able to testify during committee hearings.
- By participating in coordination with the ArMA Advocacy Team, the RTS System is a critical way for physicians to show their unified strength.
- If you haven’t already—register for RTS now! Directions are HERE.
Testifying Before a Legislative Committee
- There is nothing like the impact of an ArMA physician providing real-world testimony on how legislation directly affects their practice and the health of Arizona patients. Committee testimony is the most powerful and important form of legislative advocacy.
- Make sure to submit your Request to Speak in the RTS System the day before
- It's like meeting with a legislator, but in front of a publicly-viewable committee rather than in a private office.
- At the beginning of your remarks, be sure to state your name for the record, addressing the committee chairperson first and then the members of the committee in general.
- Be prepared for a time limit. Use bullet points to focus on the most critical parts to your argument in the case of a chairperson shortening your allotted time.
- Professional and clinical observations provide credibility: what will happen to patient care under the proposed legislation?
- In making your presentation, provide the facts and science but don’t forget to show empathy and understanding for the other side.
- When answering questions from committee members, responses must go through the committee's chairperson.
A FINAL POINT: TESTIFYING BEFORE A COMMITTEE IS SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, AND VERY COMPELLING.
IF YOU NEED ANY ASSISTANCE, THE ArMA ADVOCACY TEAM CAN HELP!
JUST CONTACT US AND WE CAN WALK THROUGH THE PROCESS AND ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE.