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Here are a few tips to help you communicate effectively with your state or federal legislators. The tips are organized under the following categories: What to Say, How to Say it, Afterward, and Resources.
Please note: HFMA chapters cannot advocate or lobby their lawmakers. Similarly, HFMA members cannot advocate on behalf of or as a representative of the Association. However, you may write letters, visit your legislators, organize letter-writing campaigns and rallies, or otherwise participate in the political process as a private citizen or an affected employee. The information below is intended to help you as a healthcare finance professional. Whether you send e-mails, call, or meet with your legislator, these principles are the same.
Tell the reader who you are. Say you are a constituent. Describe your professional position, name the organization you work for, and note your professional affiliations.
Example: "My name is Mark Smith, and I am a CFO with ABC Health Systems, here in Bethesda, Maryland. I am a CPA and a fellow of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. I have lived and worked in this city for 15 years."
Provide practical information about how proposed legislation will affect your entity and community. Talk about your organization and its goals. Show evidence of local interest. Keep your letter focused to one issue.
Example: "I am writing to express my support for S. 1234, Healthcare for the Working Poor."
Envelopes tend to get lost or torn in all the wrong places. E-mail is now the preferred communication method. However, if you are writing a letter, the address should be provided even if you don't want a reply.
If it's very important to get a reply, follow up with a call to the congressional office to check on its arrival. Also, specifically request a reply.
Example: "Please let me know your position vote on S. 1564."
Keeping your comments short and clear will increase the odds your message will get attention. Limit your letter to one page and one issue. At the beginning of the letter, state the specific action you want your legislator to take, and repeat it in the closing paragraph. Get right to the point. Use layman's terms since most legislators do not serve on health-related committees, and therefore do not have knowledge of industry jargon that you may have from working daily in healthcare finance.
Example of clear request for action: "Senate bill 1234 will allow healthcare providers to provide charity care to the working poor. Please support this vital legislation."
Example: Rather than say "charge master," say "the hospital billing system."
Give the bill name, number, or as clear a description as you can. There are literally thousands of bills introduced each year in state and federal legislatures. So make it easy for your legislator to identify which bill you are writing about.
Writing knowledgeably about the specific aspects of an issue that concern you is more effective than using generalized, "canned" letters that have been prepared by an outside organization. Also, use facts and sources to support your position.
Example of specific facts: "A study by the National Institute of Health estimates that the number of uninsured working poor is approximately 100 thousand and growing."
Your letter will be most effective if you express your position objectively. Threatening or berating the legislator will similarly undermine your message.
Send a thank you letter when your legislators vote in favor of your position-regardless of whether the bill passes.
Model letter to a legislator
Locate your U.S. representative
Locate your U.S. senator
Locate your state legislative representative (after clicking on this link, select your state, then "Legislators").
Identify a congressional bill's sponsor, number title, and key provisions through THOMAS, a web site operated by the Library of Congress.
Publication Date: Monday, January 01, 2007
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Cindy Matthews, executive vice president, Community Hospital Corporation, discusses how rural and community hospitals can use collaborative partnering to position for success through tough market conditions.
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Dale Hockel, senior vice president of operations, and Jim Fanelli, CFO, TriMedx, share strategies for elevating clinical engineering through innovative management programs.
Russ Graney, founder and CEO for Aidin, and John Laursen, head of business development for Aidin, share insights on how to improve care transitions between acute and post-acute care settings and incentivize high-quality patient outcomes.
Scott Elston, strategic accounts manager, GE Healthcare Services, describes how substantial cost reduction in health care requires rethinking business strategy and asset use.
Robert Williams, MD, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Arielle Freiberger, product strategist, ConvergeHEALTH by Deloitte, explain how sophisticated retrospective, real-time, and predictive data analytics can inform decision making to reduce costs and improve care.
Stuart Hanson, director of business development (healthcare solutions) at Citi Retail Services, discusses how improving the payment experience can benefit consumers and healthcare providers.
Scott Schmidt, vice president, Cerner RevWorks, LLC, shares insights on best practices for maximizing a revenue cycle management partnership.
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