Be the Voice of Neurology: Meet your Legislators During the August Congressional Recess

August 15, 2011

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Congress is now out of session until September 6, meaning members of Congress are back in their district offices available to meet with constituents, hold press events, and be seen in their communities. Now is the time to engage with your members of Congress. Take advantage of this opportunity to educate your senators and representative about the value of neurologists in their community and the significant challenges facing neurology now and in the future.

Opportunities During the Recess

Engaging your members of Congress is easy! The best way to find out about opportunities in your district is to call or email the district office for your member of Congress using the contact information on their website, which can be found by visiting www.senate.gov or www.house.gov. During the recess, you can:

  • Schedule a Meeting in the District Office. Meeting with your member of Congress or their staff in a district office provides an opportunity for a one-on-one dialogue, and is a great way to begin a long-term relationship.
  • Attend a Town Hall Meeting. To find out when your local town halls are occurring check your member of Congress' website, Facebook page, your local newspapers, or call your local congressional office.
  • Write a Letter to the Editor. Local newspapers still hold significant sway with members of Congress, especially if their name is included in the letter.
  • Lead Your Member on a Tour. As a neurologist, your place of business improves the lives of thousands of constituents. Members and their staff are often interested in learning more about the health care providers in their district and the diseases that they treat. Call your local congressional office to offer your services, and if they don't have time to see your facility, ask for a meeting in the district office.

Fill out an evaluation after each interaction with a member of Congress. This will allow the AAN to track your congressional contacts and follow up as needed.

Conducting a Meeting

When meeting with your members of Congress, it’s important not to make assumptions. Be sure to tell them about what you do and describe the patients and the diseases you treat. Educate your members about the value of a neurologist and the important role of face-to-face or cognitive care services. It may help to incorporate any relevant patient stories you think are especially impactful. Since your legislators meet with many constituents, it’s helpful to also provide a copy of the AAN’s document entitled "The Critical Role of Neurologists in Our Health Care System," for reference.

Sample Talking Points

  • The estimated annual cost of neurologic disorders is $400 billion and one in six people in the US suffer from a neurologic condition.
  • It takes significant time and skill to provide ongoing cognitive care to manage complex chronic conditions for people with neurologic diseases like ALS, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, headache, and stroke. These diseases often represent the highest need, highest cost Medicare beneficiaries, making access to neurologic care all the more critical as the US population ages.
  • Neurologists have years of specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of neurologic disease. Such care involves extensive care coordination and face-to-face time with patients, also called evaluation and management (E/M) services.
  • While much attention is paid to the plight of primary care physicians, who also rely heavily on E/M reimbursement, it is vital that cognitive specialties are not ignored.
  • Neurology faces a looming shortage as its workforce ages, fewer US medical students choose to go into neurology, and financial disincentives continue to undervalue cognitive care.

Questions or Need Assistance?

AAN staff are happy to help members set up meetings during the August recess. If you would like assistance, or would just like more information on any of these materials, contact Derek Brandt at dbrandt@aan.com or (202) 506-7477.