TAFP magazine provides advocacy primer for family physicians

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TAFP magazine provides advocacy primer for family physicians

Prepare for the 82nd Legislative Session with the advocacy checklist

posted 08.31.10

For many physicians, politics is the opposite of medicine. Doctors heal while legislators write laws, and lawmaking is not always pretty. While physicians were able to keep their distance from policymaking in the past, the present day calls for action. Those without a medical background are setting the rules that will determine how physicians run their practices and how they are compensated for their time, and physicians have a responsibility to educate these lawmakers about the true practice of medicine.

When the 82nd Texas Legislature convenes in January 2011, the state will face a multi-billion dollar shortfall—possibly the worst in state history. The last time the state balanced the budget under a deficit, state leaders cut CHIP and Medicaid benefits, physician payments for these programs, family medicine graduate medical education, and preceptorship programs, all of which negatively affected physician workforce and access to care for patients.

To prepare, your Academy has gathered the resources family physicians need to be effective advocates for the specialty in the latest TEXAS FAMILY PHYSICIAN magazine. It’s a primer for all levels of involvement, acknowledging that collective action will make a difference.

Kim Ross, a public affairs consultant specializing in health care policy and political strategy and former head of TMA’s governmental affairs, presents a three-part feature on the ins and outs of lobbying including 11 rules of etiquette when meeting with your representative or senator. Next is a question-and-answer piece with the five members of TAFP’s lobby team that gives insight on specific tasks and concerns about the 82nd Legislature. Finally, Joe Gagan, CEO of Texas CASA and a veteran in the halls of the Capitol, dispenses six rules on how to get your legislator to support your issue. Go directly to the special advocacy issue online.

Don't know where to start in political involvement? TAFP's advocacy checklist provides five quick and easy ways to become more involved today.

  • Sign up to be a TAFP Key Contact
    Though TAFP will be in the halls of the Capitol championing family medicine's top concerns, legislators really want to hear from you, their constituents. Sign up to be a Key Contact and TAFP staff will contact you to interact with your legislator by writing a letter, placing a phone call, scheduling a meeting, or attending a campaign event. These interactions could be what keep your representative or senator from supporting a bad bill for medicine. Go to .
  • Sign up to serve as a Physician of the Day
    The easiest way to make a difference is by signing up to serve as a Physician of the Day at the Texas Capitol. Family physicians volunteer to spend a day working in the Capitol Health Services Clinic with Tim Flynn, R.N., N.P., treating legislators and their staffs, and anyone else in the Capitol community needing care. Physicians of the Day are not allowed to lobby on their day of service, they simply do what they do best—care for patients. Sign up online at www.tafp.org/advocacy/get-involved/physician-of-the-day or contact Kate McCann at (512) 329-8666.
  • Stay informed on the issues through TAFP resources
    In preparation for the legislative session, the Academy will post issue briefs, talking points, and PowerPoint presentations that you can take with you when addressing legislators or groups in your community. Many are in production now, but you can catch up on last session’s top issues (many of which we’ll face this session) at .
  • Join the TAFP Political Action Committee
    Through grassroots involvement, personal relationships with elected officials, and political campaign participation and contributions, TAFPPAC supports candidates who demonstrate support for issues important to family physicians and your patients. Sign up to be a monthly donor at an amount that fits your budget, or make a one-time contribution. Your generosity will amplify TAFPPAC's voice. Go to www.tafppac.org.
  • Build meaningful relationships with your representative and your senator
    Ever notice how a friend will hear your side of an argument even if they are 100 percent opposed to it? That’s because a personal relationship fosters a mutual respect that opens dialogue. Take your representative or senator to lunch or set up a meeting in your district and he or she will be more likely to remember you when you walk into his or her office at the Capitol. Find who represents you at www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us.

Make progress toward your advocacy checklist and make a difference for your patients today. For questions on how to get involved, contact TAFP at (512) 329-8666 or tafppac@tafp.org.