Meeting with Legislators and Pharmacy Visits

Meeting with Legislators and Pharmacy Visits

Some Tips About Meeting Legislators

First, let your NCPA Government Affairs team in Washington, D.C. know that you have scheduled a meeting. Call (703) 683-8200. They can provide you with valuable information about the legislator and his or her positions. Your state association can provide the same type of assistance when you are planning to meet a state legislator.

Setting the Meeting

  • Call the district office closest to your store and request a meeting. Be flexible on date and time as legislator schedules are unpredictable. Be sure to mention what issues you wish to discuss.
  • Consider including other pharmacists or even concerned patients in the meeting you schedule to show unity and leadership.
  • Call again closer to the date of the meeting and reconfirm the appointment schedule.
  • Be on time for your appointment and be patient. A legislator's schedule is hectic and subject to change at a moment's notice. Ask the staff person how much time you have with the legislator.
  • Time with legislators is extremely valuable. Have an agenda so that you don't "chat" until the clock runs out. Ask the staff person how much time you will have and plan accordingly. Most meetings last about 30 minutes.

Tips for a Successful Meeting

  • Volunteer yourself as a source of local expertise on health care issues.
  • Expect a legislator to say that they will have their staff "look into the issue." That's okay. Your NCPA Government Affairs team will follow-up with staff.
  • Don't be disappointed if you only meet with staff. (Staff members play a key role in advising elected officials. Treat a meeting with staff as you would a meeting with any elected official.)
  • Be friendly, polite and brief—don't use up too much of your valuable time with small talk. Directly ask for the legislator's opinion on your issue(s). Listen, and put forward your own point of view, but try never to be argumentative.
  • Never stretch the truth, at the risk of losing your credibility with the legislator or their staff.
  • Give the legislator a one-page paper describing the issue and the solution. NCPA can provide you with simple issue briefs on many topics.

Follow Up

  • Invite the legislator to visit your pharmacy when he or she is next going to be in the district.
  • Leave the meeting open-ended for further discussions—and ALWAYS follow up with a personal "thank you" note and a thank you email to staff.

TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL PHARMACY VISIT

How to secure a pharmacy visit: If you would like to host a pharmacy visit, you can contact the elected officials' district office and extend an invitation for the official to tour your pharmacy. Be flexible with dates and times and realize that elected officials spend much of their time at the capitol and have limited time back in the district.

Additionally, please let our government affairs staff know you would like to host a visit. NCPA receives requests directly from members of Congress asking for help in arranging a pharmacy tour during their recess periods, and if we are already aware of your interest we can help direct the member to your pharmacy if their office calls.

What Activities to Prepare: Nothing elaborate or "staged." A simple familiarization tour of the daily workings of a community pharmacy is informative enough. Interaction with patients and staff is essential—maybe joining the pharmacist behind the prescription counter to chat with patients. It is sometimes a good idea to arrange an opportunity for the visiting legislator to speak to an assembled group of employees and patients. If there is an opportunity for a group of Medicare patients (for example) to hear a short speech by the elected official, this will be much appreciated. You may be able to tie the visit to another community or seniors' event.

Make sure you have a camera on hand and take pictures of the member of Congress interacting with your staff and patients. Please email copies of any photos to NCPA.

Make Time for a Personal Meeting: Set aside some time in your tour schedule for a one-on-one talk with your visitor about some critical issues facing community pharmacy. This helps build your personal relationship with the legislator, and it helps establish you as an information resource on health care issues.

Questions to Expect and Materials to Prepare: Be prepared for questions from the legislator and expect the staff people, who usually come along, to take notes and learn from the experience. Know the number of your patients you serve monthly, how many are on Medicaid and Medicare and other basic community service data for your pharmacy(ies). Include this data in a printed Pharmacy Profile to hand out to the legislator and their staff members.

How to Conduct the Tour: Act naturally, as with any other visitor. Don't lobby them too much with political issues, but do save some time during their visit to raise community pharmacy's issues. Just seeing your daily operations should ensure that the legislator never looks at community pharmacy care in the same way as before the tour. You will have achieved your purpose and established yourself even more as an "expert" resource.

Follow Up-Following the tour; be sure to follow up with the office with a personalized thank you note and a thank you email to staff. Also contact NCPA and provide a brief recount on the tour. Be sure to include, what staff, if any, accompanied the member of Congress, the issues you discussed and any feedback you received from the member. Also please send us any photos you took.

Do you have questions? Call NCPA's government affairs department at (703) 683-8200.

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