Virtual Advocacy Toolkit provides guidance for lobbying legislators on key advocacy issues
July 17, 2020 (ACP) – The American College of Physicians' annual Leadership Day is going virtual this year due to the escalating COVID-19 pandemic.
In the past, ACP members from across the country convened in Washington, D.C., for a two-day conference where they would lobby legislators and staff on key advocacy issues affecting the practice of internal medicine. While large group meetings are not currently considered safe or responsible, advocacy is more important than ever, which is why ACP is launching a newly created Virtual Advocacy Toolkit for members along with step-by-step guidance for how to best utilize the tools, said Jonni McCrann, ACP senior manager of legislative affairs.
Specifically, the new toolkit includes messaging around such key ACP advocacy priorities as supporting the physician workforce, payment increases for evaluation and management services, protecting patients and access to care and saving primary care in the COVID-19 era.
“Access to affordable primary care is something that every individual needs in order to live a long, healthy life,” said McCrann. “Congress and this administration need to put partisanship aside and implement policies that will ensure adequate and affordable coverage for all Americans, expand and improve workforce and payment policies that support primary care, reduce prescription drug costs, remove barriers to care caused by excessive regulation and give physicians the tools they need to win this fight against the coronavirus.”
Virtual Advocacy: What You Can Do
ACP urges members to carefully review the materials in the toolkit and then reach out to their members of Congress via sample letters, submitted electronically through the ACP Legislative Action Center; sample talking points for use in telephone conversations with lawmakers and/or staff; and sample tweets to engage lawmakers through social media. Members should also watch a webinar outlining the toolkit to learn more about ACP's advocacy priorities. “The webinar will be recorded and made available so members can tune in at their leisure to learn about ACP's advocacy priorities and how specifically they can engage,” McCrann said.
As an example of what policies to support during the COVID-19 pandemic, ACP members should write, call or tweet to urge Congress to pass the Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act and the Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act. These bills support expedited visas for international medical graduates to enter the United States for training and patient care. What's more, Congress should be encouraged to pass the Student Loan Forgiveness for Frontline Health Workers Act, which would forgive student loans for physicians and other clinicians on the front lines of providing care to COVID-19 patients or helping the health care system cope with the COVID-19 public health emergency, ACP suggests.
Social Media and Advocacy Tips
Virtual advocacy on social media allows messaging to be heard by even larger audiences. ACP suggests using hashtags to amplify these conversations and help other users find them on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.
Hashtags to use include:
In addition, make sure to tag ACP @ACPinternists and ACP state chapters when posting on social media, McCrann said.
Getting the attention of your members of Congress is easy: CSPAN provides a list of members' Twitter handles.
In addition, it's important to stay abreast of any changes to ACP's advocacy issues and priorites by following ACP staff and leadership on Twitter. Accounts to follow include: Bob Doherty (@BobDohertyACP), Shari Erickson (@SEricksonACP), Dr. Jacqueline Fincher (@JFincherMD), Dr. Heather Gantzer (@HGantzerMD) and Dr. Darilyn Moyer (@DarilynMoyer).
ACP's Virtual Advocacy Toolkit is available online.