Case Study: Meeting With Legislators in D.C.

By Eric Naumburg, M.D.
Physicians for a National Health Program - Maryland
DC Lobby Visit 2017
On March 29, 2017, several dozen health care activists undertook a project at the U.S. Capitol; the goal was to drop off information about improved Medicare for all to each of the 535 U.S. senators and representatives.

Our purpose was to collect contact information for each health care legislative assistant (LA) and build a database for future communications. Health Over Profit organized the day and the database is available on their website here; use it to contact you legislator. 

We went in teams of two or more and divided up each building by floors. We visited each office, introduced ourselves, identified the group we represented, and told the staff person that we wished to leave information about improved Medicare for all for the health care legislative assistant. The handout was a one-pager that was formatted so that it was a quick read.

In some offices; we asked to speak with the LA or the senator/representative if they were available. This can be time consuming, but it did lead to some interesting exchanges. In general, the staff at the front desk are very polite. The LA business cards are usually sitting at the front desk. Only one door was locked: House Speaker Paul Ryan’s.

If you want to speak to specific legislator or their aide it is better to call the office and set up an appointment. Even if you have an appointment with a legislator, you may end up talking to the aide because when Congress is in session, legislators don’t have control of their daily schedules. Be prepared to leave a handout, as well as your business card, and practice what you want to say. Be sure to follow up at a later date!

Getting more co-sponsors for H.R. 676, the “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All” was not our primary goal. For co-sponsors of H.R. 676, we thanked them for their support and urged them to speak with their colleagues about becoming co-sponsors.

Photo: On the way to the Senate, 435 down, 100 to go.