You can ensure that the NP voice is heard by legislators! Whether you're new to advocacy or you’re an experienced supporter looking to refresh your skills, the tools below can provide valuable assistance as you navigate phone calls, emails or meetings on Capitol Hill.
Prepare to reach out to your members of Congress with talking points on today’s most pressing issues:
Home Health: NPs are Medicare Part B providers who are reimbursed for providing medical services to patients. They order therapies; bill for telemedicine services; order, perform, interpret and supervise diagnostic tests; and certify eligibility for skilled nursing care. NPs are attending providers in home health care, but they are still unable to certify eligibility without physician documentation.
Cosponsor (HR 1825/SB 445) to Amend Title XVIII of the Social Security Act to Ensure More Timely Access to Home Health Services for Medicare Beneficiaries Under the Medicare Program.
Diabetic Shoes: Currently, NPs must send their diabetic patients who need therapeutic shoes to a physician to certify that need. Additionally, according to current statute, the certifying physician must be the provider treating the patient’s diabetic condition going forward. Delays in treatment, caused by this burdensome statute, jeopardize the health of patients and cause the Medicare program to incur additional costs by requiring the participation of an additional provider.
Cosponsor HR 1617, which would authorize NPs to certify their patient’s need for therapeutic shoes.
Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs): The Affordable Care Act recognizes NPs as professionals eligible to participate in ACOs. Under the Medicare Shared Savings Program, the statute prevents Medicare beneficiaries who receive their primary care services from NPs from being assigned to ACOs in the program. This restriction makes it impossible for NP practices to independently join or establish their own ACOs.
Cosponsor HR 1160 to improve the way beneficiaries are assigned under the Medicare Shared Savings Program. This legislation would allow the assignment of NP patients to Medicare Shared Savings ACOs.
For supporting information about NPs or NP education, practice settings and clinical focus areas, review the NP Fact Sheet.
Meeting with a member of Congress or a congressional staff member is a very effective way to convey a message about a specific legislative issue. Below are some suggestions to consider when planning a visit to a congressional office.
Plan Your Visit Carefully: Be clear about what it is you want to achieve; determine in advance which member or committee staff member you need to meet with to achieve your purpose.
Make an Appointment: When attempting to meet with a member, contact the Appointment Secretary or Scheduler to explain your purpose and who you represent. It is easier for a congressional staff member to arrange a meeting if they know what you wish to discuss and your relationship to the area or interests represented by the member.
Be Prompt and Patient: When it is time to meet with a member, be punctual and be patient. It is not uncommon for a Congressman or Congresswoman to be late or to have a meeting interrupted due to the member's crowded schedule. If interruptions do occur, be flexible. When the opportunity presents itself, continue your meeting with a member's staff.
Be Prepared: Whenever possible, bring to the meeting information and materials supporting your position. Members are required to take positions on many different issues. In some instances, a member may lack important details about the pros and cons of a particular matter. It is therefore helpful to share information and examples that clearly demonstrate the impact or benefits associated with a particular issue or piece of legislation.
Be Political: Members of Congress want to represent the best interests of their district or state. Wherever possible, demonstrate the connection between what you are requesting and the interests of the member's constituency. If possible, describe for the member how you or your group can be of assistance. Where it is appropriate, remember to ask for a commitment.
Be Responsive: Be prepared to answer questions or provide additional information in the event that the member expresses interest or asks questions. Follow up the meeting with a thank you letter that outlines the different points covered during the meeting, and send along any additional information and materials requested.
Tips on Writing a Member of Congress
A letter or email is the most popular choice of communication when contacting a congressional office. Information about sending an email or a letter is available on each member’s website.
Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter or email. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it accordingly, e.g., House bill: H.R. ___ , Senate bill: S ____. Be courteous, stick to the point, and include key information, using examples to support your position. Address only one issue in each letter or email, and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
You should address your correspondence:
To a Senator:
The Honorable (Full Name) United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510 Dear Sen. (Last Name):
To a Representative:
The Honorable (Full Name) House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):
When writing to the Chair of a Committee or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:
Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman:
or Dear Mr. Speaker:
AANP has letters at the members-only Advocacy Center that address the issues facing NPs, including home health, durable medical equipment (DME) and veterans affairs. We encourage you to utilize this resource and personalize these letters to your member of Congress. It is important to note that email is the best way to communicate with your elected officials. Letters sent through the U.S. Postal Service™ can take weeks to get to congressional offices.
When addressing correspondence to a recently elected member of Congress who has not been sworn in yet, it is proper to address them as:
To a Senator:
The Honorable (Full Name) Senator-elect United States Senate Washington, D.C. 20510 Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):
To a Representative:
The Honorable (Full Name) Representative-elect House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):
Tips on Calling a Member of Congress
The phone numbers for your senators and representatives are available on their respective websites. You can also call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your senator’s or representative’s office.
Telephone calls are usually taken by a staff member, not the member of Congress. Identify yourself as a constituent and state your name, your hometown and the issue about which you wish to comment. Always be polite in your tone and language, and do not assume that the person initially taking your call is familiar with the issue you are calling to discuss.
If you are transferred to the Health Legislative Assistant or if you are placed into the staffer’s voicemail, reintroduce yourself and identify the topic you are calling to discuss.
If you are instructed to leave a message with the receptionist, repeat your name and continue with the message that you wish to deliver, such as, “My name is ________, I am a nurse practitioner from _______, and I would like to speak with the Health Legislative Assistant about a piece of legislation that pertains to NPs.”
Make a few brief points as to why the issue is of concern to you, your community and the nation, and note why the member should take action. You may want to use written notes to help you stay on topic and remain clear while articulating your message.
Be clear about what you are asking the member to do (e.g., cosponsor a particular bill).
Keep your call brief, unless the staffer asks you questions and seems engaged in the discussion. Offer to send additional or follow-up information to the staffer and request their preferred mode of communication (e.g., email address).
Thank the staffer for his or her time and indicate that you appreciate his or her willingness to listen and record your comments. Be sure to record the name of the staffer and the day and time you spoke so you can have it for future use and in case you need to follow up. It is important to keep in touch with the offices of your member of Congress to establish a relationship with the member and staff and make yourself available as a resource.