Tara Suplicki and Melanie Kozak Talk to Congressional Staffer

  • Include other constituents. It’s important for Members of Congress to know that pulmonary hypertension has a wide impact. When possible, invite a few other patients, friends, family members or community leaders to join your visit. You could even ask your Members of Congress to visit your support group meeting or special event.

  • Present Your Appearance with Care. Business casual style of dress is appropriate. Slacks are okay, but jeans are not!

  • Choose a Group Leader. Appointing a group leader is a great way to ensure that the meeting goes smoothly. First, the group leader should thank the member or staff person for their time and their past support, if appropriate. Second, they should introduce the group, give a brief overview of what PH is and the purpose of the meeting (i.e. gaining co-sponsorship of the Pulmonary Hypertension Research and Diagnosis Act). Lastly, the group leader should be mindful of the time to make sure everyone gets a chance to talk and the Member of Congress or staff member has a chance to ask questions.

  • Appoint a Recorder. No group will be able to answer all the questions they are asked. That’s okay! If your group can’t answer a question, the recorder should write down the question and the contact information of the person who asked it. Then, questions should be forwarded to PHA so that they can be addressed.

  • Plan What to Say. It helps if the group has talked in advance about who will share their story. As time permits, have group members share one important part of their PH story. Then, if you have time, go back and tell more personal stories. Make things easy for your audience by avoiding acronyms and PH jargon.

  • Make a Request. Members of Congress and their staff won’t know how they can help unless you tell them! Unless your visit is solely to say “thank you,” don’t forget to make a specific request during your meeting. For example, “I hope that you will co-sponsor the Pulmonary Hypertension Research and Diagnosis Act.”

  • Be Flexible. Each member of Congress has a Legislative Assistant (LA) who focuses on health issues. LA’s are knowledgeable, dedicated staff members who are worth talking to. Don’t be disappointed if you end up speaking with an LA rather than your senator or representative.

  • Ask for a Photo Op. Ask your member or staff person for a photo with them. This shows that you consider their time valuable and that you would like to take with you a memory of this important meeting. Don’t forget to share your photos with PHA!

  • Closing the Meeting. Don’t forget to thank the Member of Congress or staffer for their time.

Watch: PHA Advocacy Training

Watch this video to learn more about the PH bill and how to reach out to your Members of Congress about becoming a co-sponsor.

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The information provided on the PHA website is provided for general information only. It is not intended as legal, medical or other professional advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for consultations with qualified professionals who are familiar with your individual needs.

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The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) awarded PHA the Abbey S. Meyers Leadership Award in 2012 for outstanding service to PHA members in advocacy, education and other key areas.