By John Richardson, NSGC Senior Director of Policy and Government Relations
As Gillian highlighted, the NSGC Board of Directors had a very successful day on the Hill, meeting with more than 30 congressional offices. The effort will surely yield additional cosponsors to H.R. 3235. Our focus is to add cosponsors as they demonstrate Congressional support for increasing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to genetic counselors.
While writing letters and sending emails to members of Congress makes a difference, nothing has a higher impact than meeting face-to-face with your Representative. Putting a face or faces on an issue allows the issue to resonate – and it is the most effective way to gain cosponsors.
I started my career working on the Hill for a congressman and know first-hand that they truly want to hear from constituents and they want to support policies that are important to their districts. After all, they are politicians who are up for election every two years.
Our lobby team’s priority is to help you meet with your member of Congress if they are not yet a cosponsor. Don’t be intimidated! Genetic counselors are among the most natural and effective advocates I have ever worked with. Whether pursuing state licensure or our federal bill, advocacy is something you all do very well.
There is no need to be nervous going into a Congressional meeting – all you need to do is tell your story – where you live, what you do, and how and where you do it. Having a patient join you can also have a big impact. Our team can help make this easy for you. Members of Congress will be home frequently this year due to the election in November, and we can help schedule a meeting in a district office close to home. We will provide all the background information you need. So really, all you have to do is tell your story. If you are going to be in D.C., we will not only help schedule a meeting, we will have a member of our team join you on the Hill.
This will not be a waste of time – many of the cosponsors to-date declared their support because of these meetings. As an example, Rebekah Moore was in D.C. visiting friends and contacted us with interest in meeting with Rep. David Joyce (OH). She and I met with Rep. Joyce’s healthcare staff and Rebekah made an impressive pitch for cosponsorship. Rep. Joyce has also received a lot of emails through our online platform. A month or so after our meeting, he became a cosponsor.
In Indiana, Katie Spoonamore has been attracting support for H.R. 3235, and worked with us to secure a meeting with her Congressman, Trey Hollingsworth. Sure enough, Katie had a great discussion with Rep. Hollingsworth and he agreed to cosponsor.
Gaining cosponsors often requires multiple emails and in-person meetings. NSGC Board member Scott Weissman has met his member of Congress back home in the district and on Capitol Hill. While not a cosponsor yet, he is close – so Scott, others in the district, and our lobby team here in D.C. will keep at it until his Congressman cosponsors the bill. Sometimes it takes time – following the squeaky wheel adage does pay off.
The bottom line is we are making progress as 17 members of Congress joined Congressman Loebsack as cosponsors. Our collective efforts have attracted more than 250 organizations that support our effort. This is a noteworthy accomplishment in itself. But we need to do more and you can have a significant impact. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an interest in meeting with your member of Congress in your district or Washington, D.C. Become an effective advocate for H.R. 3235 and join the ranks of Rebekah, Katie and Scott.
This article was published in the February 2020 Advocate Newsletter.