Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014 – a huge election year resplendent with opportunities to meet legislative candidates and regulatory board members. This is your year to share your story about what it means to be a physician anesthesiologist and form working relationships with elected officials that will last for years to come.
Good advocacy begins with good relationships; it is usually easier to talk about serious issues with a friend than with a stranger, and discussing legislative issues is no different. Forming working relationships with lawmakers is as easy as setting up a meeting at their office and offering yourself as a source of information on health care policy.
If your lawmaker is not available for a meeting when you are, try to meet with legislative staff instead. Having good interaction with staff is often the best was to relay your ideas and concerns to a lawmaker. If your work environment allows, invite lawmakers and their staff to spend a day with you; this hands-on experience will stay with them for life and really drive home the importance of physician-led health care.
This month, 35 states and the District of Columbia will be in legislative session, with eight more joining that number in February.
Legislative Session Beginning in January: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.
Legislative Session Beginning in February: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, West Virginia, Wyoming.
Legislative Session Beginning in March: Florida, Louisiana.
Legislative Session Beginning in May: North Carolina.
States With No Legislative Session in 2014: Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Texas.
Even if your state is not in legislative session this year, remember that the state boards of medicine, nursing, insurance, health or other relevant regulatory boards are always meeting and promulgating rules. In fact, we are witnessing more instances of non-physicians promoting their agendas through regulatory boards instead of the more appropriate legislative route. Additionally, in 2013 medical and nursing boards in two states were asked for their opinions on opt outs, so establishing close contacts within the boards is more vital than ever for the promotion of patient safety.
If you want to get more involved in the state-level legislative and regulatory process, or you are looking for more ideas on how to form relationships with lawmakers, please contact ASA’s Department of State Affairs and we would be happy to help you get more involved. We are excited about 2014 and welcome the opportunity to help make state-level advocacy a successful part of your New Year’s resolutions!