By John Falardeau
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are slated to head home to their districts and states starting July 30. The start of the traditional summer recess comes after, what both parties will tell you, was a tumultuous session—one still dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, in August, members will hold town hall forums, listening sessions and other public events (some in a virtual setting, others live), geared toward gauging constituent views and interests.
Doctors of chiropractic are especially encouraged to seek out their federal legislators at these virtual or public town hall meetings because they are a great way to begin establishing a relationship, or strengthening an existing one, with your lawmaker's office. Typically, the legislator will make some remarks about what is happening on Capitol Hill and specifically about what he or she has accomplished or is working on. In addition, there is usually time set aside for questions and answers.
If you’ve never attended a town hall meeting before—or even if you’re a seasoned pro—it might feel a bit intimidating. Here are several tips to help you navigate the political town halls:
- With the introduction of H.R. 2654, the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act earlier this year, please focus on attending an in-person or virtual town hall meeting with your member of the House of Representatives. Please use our prepared talking points and ask your representative to cosponsor H.R. 2654. Simply put, the more cosponsors we have, the better the likelihood of our success.
- If you’re representative is already a cosponsor, thanking them for their support is a good gesture.
- If your in-person or virtual town hall is with a senator, urge them to consider introducing a companion bill in the Senate. The talking points linked above can be used in this setting, as well.
- Get to or sign-on to the virtual meeting early. In-person town hall meetings using Zoom or some other virtual platform, are often very crowded, and you do not want to disturb the meeting after it has started. Also, you may have a better opportunity to ask your question and speak with your member of Congress after the event if you arrive to the virtual meeting early.
- Be polite and professional even if your representative or other town hall attendees disagree with your position. Stick to the facts, even if others do not.
- Follow up with the member of Congress and his/her staff. Call or e-mail the office after the town hall meeting to offer additional resources or ask follow-up questions about the issues that were discussed.
- Above all, be visible. Let your legislators know that doctors of chiropractic and the services they provide are an important part of the healthcare delivery system in your community.
Find Out Where Your Representatives and Senators Will Be
Start planning! Use the following links to learn about upcoming town halls, forums and other public events hosted by your Members of Congress in August:
Important tip: Once on your representative or senator’s webpage, sign up for email updates. This is often the best way to find out when virtual town hall meetings are taking place and how to participate.
John Falardeau is ACA's senor vice president of public policy and advocacy.