Deploying Grassroots Advocates in a Virtual Environment
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of life for AAO-HNS members, including how they engage in critical advocacy activities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of life for AAO-HNS members, including how they engage in critical advocacy activities. After life as we knew it was halted in mid-March 2020, the business of advocacy remained at the forefront. As our nation’s physicians were called to the frontlines of the public health emergency to treat their patients in the face of an unknown enemy, while protecting themselves and their families, the need for the federal government to provide support for the practice of medicine was more urgent than ever.
At the onset of the pandemic, U.S. Senators, Representatives, and Congressional staff halted in-person meetings, shifting to a fully virtual lobbying environment. This led to an immediate increase in use of platforms such as Zoom and a renewed focus on advocacy contact through phone calls, emails, and letters. The Academy increasingly relied upon its established grassroots programs, including Project 535, which links an otolaryngologist to each of the 535 members of Congress, and I-GO, the In-District Grassroots Outreach program. These initiatives allowed AAO-HNS members to continue to advocate for their practices and patients and to bolster the voice of the specialty before Congress.
Over the course of the past year, AAO-HNS grassroots advocates sent over 1,500 letters through email to Senators and Representatives advocating for COVID-19 relief, Medicare sequestration reprieve, surprise billing remedies, and increased physician liability protections. Thanks to the virtual grassroots efforts of the AAO-HNS Advocacy Network, Academy members were able to celebrate many legislative successes at the close of the 116th Congress. Now that a new Congress has begun, the AAO-HNS is working with our Congressional champions to shape the legislative agenda. Concurrently, we are actively monitoring opportunities for Academy members to engage with members of Congress. These collective efforts help to ensure otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons, their patients, and practices are protected during the ongoing Congressional debate on healthcare reform.
The Academy’s Advocacy team stands ready to help our members raise their voices, whether in person or through a virtual platform. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for the ENT Advocacy Network or share any questions. The Academy appreciates our current ENT Advocacy Network members’ efforts and looks forward to future members joining the ranks to strengthen our specialty’s collective voice!