AAHomecare's Steps Toward Effective Facility Tours for Members of Congress
In a recent article, AAHomecare outlined 10 steps toward effective facility tours for members of Congress. The organizations advised home health care providers to take advantage of town hall meetings when members of Congress are back home to get the home care message to senators or representatives.
Facility tours are an important way to put a face on home care issues. A tour can highlight the importance of home care in the state or congressional district. Here are some things to consider when arranging a site visit or facility tour for a U.S. senator, U.S. representative, or state and local officials:
- Fax or e-mail a polite, professional invitation letter to the member of Congress in care of the staff person who schedules meetings. Consider copying the legislative assistant for health issues as well as the district director who manages the member's offices in the state on the fax or e-mail. Mention the number of patients served by your facility, your service area and the number of employees.
- Be as flexible as possible about timing. A tour would likely occur during one of the district work periods when Congress is not in session. Allow for adequate time for the member and his or her staff to get a sense of your operation and leave some time for questions.
- In conversations with staff about a potential tour, offer to invite the local media or photographer to accompany the member on the tour. If a tour is scheduled, alert the press beforehand about the tour and how Medicare policy affects your organization.
- During the tour, involve employees and patients if possible to let the member of Congress meet some of the people involved in your enterprise. Your member represents employees, patients and their families.
- Share key facts, such as what types of patients your organization serves, what types of services and equipment are provided, how many employees work at the facility, the economic impact of the facility in the region, and other information about the role that your organization plays in the community and in the individual lives of patients and their families.
- During the tour, show all of the components that go into providing home care, such as key services, after-hours responsibilities, medical equipment, regulatory compliance, billing, deliveries and maintenance. Some home care providers have spread out on large tables all the paperwork required for a single Medicare patient.
- Make a connection between your organization's work and the critical home care issues before Congress. Connect the dots for the member of Congress and staff.
- Ask for the member's help with specific legislative or regulatory issues affecting home care. Offer to help the member of Congress in whatever way you can.
- Follow up with thank-you notes to the member of Congress and everyone who helped with the tour.
Remember to educate your members of Congress about the value of home care and the benefits home care provides patients, their families and the local community. For further information on legislative and regulatory issues affecting home care, visit the AAHomecare Web site, www.aahomecare.org, and click on "Advocacy Updates."
This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of HME Business.