Politicians need friends and advisors. They will listen to and consider the information they get from their friends even when they do not (or cannot) agree with them. Politics is the art of compromise. Your officials cannot always hold your position. If they cannot support you on one issue, they will want to support you even more strongly on others.
Work with your key officials to be a credible and valuable advisor. Because if they know, like and respect you, they will take your call when you need to reach them. Getting to know the government officials who represent you at the federal, state and local levels is an important first step. Face-to-face meetings are a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue.
Make the request for the introductory meeting by letter or phone call. Explain where you work, what the GGG is and that you are the chairman. If the legislator is not available, then try to meet with his/her staff. Spend a couple minutes researching the elected official so you know what to expect.
Keep in mind it will take time to arrange a meeting given a legislator’s busy schedule. Expect the meeting to be scheduled for 15 minutes.
Always bring and leave your Hospital’s Community Benefit Report and a fact sheet about your hospital. The fact sheet should contain the following information:
- Your name and title
- The name of the hospital
- The amount of indigent care your hospital does
- How many employees the hospital has
- How much total the hospital pays in taxes
- Any new construction that is happening or will happen
- Anything that sets your hospital apart from other hospitals
Do not be offended if a staff member substitutes for the elected official. Staff support of an issue can be the difference in whether or not the elected official supports the issue.
Assume the legislator is familiar with only a few healthcare issues. You are the expert in the field. Be prepared to answer questions. If you do not know the answer, tell the elected official that you will get back to them with the answer.
Always end the meeting with an invitation to come to the hospital and meet other GGG members.
After the meeting follow up with the elected official promptly. Send a thank you letter reiterating the important points from the meeting and any information you promised. Put your business card in it.