Technology and Social Media is Changing Congress

Posted on in HME Government Issues

GovSocialMediaBy Collin Brecher, VGM Government Relations The success of independent DMEPOS industry is completely dependent on the decisions of CMS and the government. It is very easy for a provider to feel helpless and ask, “I am just one business, what could I possibly do to change the path that the industry is going down?” The answer to that question is simple: Contacting elected officials at any level in government is one of the most beneficial things you, as a provider, could do. One of the most common responses that the Government Relations team gets at the federal level is “I am not hearing from providers and beneficiaries about the challenges they are facing.” This is a very winnable battle, whether you choose an email, phone call, or contact through social media. Elected officials WANT to hear from their constituents and business owners, which means providers stand to gain a lot of ground when contacting a congressman or senator. Here are the three key points to help contact your elected officials. HOW: With advances in technology and the sweeping changes that social media has brought to Capitol Hill, accessing your elected officials is easier than ever. Nearly every member of Congress has social media accounts on Twitter or Facebook. Sending them a tweet or post on Facebook only takes a few moments and is a great way to get the conversation started about concerns of your business. These posts are a great stepping stone to begin sending emails, or a letter directly to your member of Congress and starting a dialogue with them. WHAT: Members of Congress represent hundreds of thousands of citizens from their respective states. It’s easy to feel lost in such a large crowd of people. Fear not, your voice can still easily be heard. Your Congressman may be more accessible than you might think. Town hall meetings and events happen all over the state at times like the August Recess, when members of Congress have an entire month back home. The main purpose of the month-long break is for officials to hear the concerns of every day citizens. This is a great time to meet with them in person. Congressmen also have staff members who specialize in health care issues, and they are very beneficial when beginning that crucial dialogue. Asking for a few minutes of time with a Congressional staff member and bringing in concise bullet points about your issues goes a long way. WHY: Contacting your Congressman and Senator helps you begin great relationship with them. A study from the Congressional Management Foundation found that “64 percent of the senior managers and social media managers surveyed think Facebook is a somewhat or very important tool for understanding constituent views and opinions.” Contacting through Twitter was not far behind at just under 50 percent. What these posts and tweets can lead to is the best contact of all, a face-to-face meeting with the Congressman or his trusted staff. One of the greatest successes is congressional offices relying on the input of providers about how different bills could affect their business. All that it takes to build that relationship is to reach out and start the dialogue. The VGM Government Relations team is more than happy to assist you in contacting your members of Congress and coordinating a meeting with them. If you are planning on attending the 2015 Heartland Conference, please stop by the Government Relations booth and start the dialogue during our “August of Action.”