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    Summertime is no downtime, as interim committees set agenda

    This article is part of an ongoing series from the American Association of Clinical Urologists (AACU), based on a partnership between the AACU and Urology Times. Articles are designed to provide monthly updates on federal and state legislative issues affecting urologists. We welcome your comments and suggestions about topics for future articles. Contact Ross Weber, state affairs manager, or Joe Arite, federal government affairs manager, at 847-517-1050 or

    While very few legislatures remain in session after July 1, from late summer into early fall and beyond, so-called interim committees meet with regularity to establish much of the agenda that will be considered the next year.

    In Florida, for example, the Senate Committee on Health Regulation will consider the definition of a group practice for purposes of lawful referrals for radiation therapy services. Oregon passed a wide-ranging health transformation bill that included a requirement that the Health Authority study medical liability reforms and referral practices as they relate to potential "cost containment." The Health Authority will consider the results of this study in late 2011 and make recommendations to the 2012 legislature.

    Most interim committee schedules are posted on the home page of each legislature's Web site. The AACU monitors these activities and can alert interested parties to significant developments, as well as opportunities to testify.

    Keys to engaging 'electeds'

    Urologists in Indiana and Florida learned first-hand this spring that successful advocacy campaigns depend on established relationships with elected officials. In each of these states, urologists were able to call upon lawmakers when it was determined that pending legislation would significantly impact the practice of urology. Whether those urologists treated a family member, donated to a political campaign, or lived next door, they confidently called upon their representatives to express the practical implications of the policies under consideration and secured important changes.

    Physicians interested in establishing relationships with their elected officials are encouraged to take action during the summer months, specifically in August when most legislatures are in recess and legislators are "home." Physician visits to legislators' offices are a highly effective way to bring policymakers "into the fold."

    While AACU staff stand ready to facilitate and prepare you for such a meeting, consider the following steps that may be taken independently:

    Email or fax a meeting request. A meeting request always should be made in writing because it may need to be passed along a chain of command. Contact information may be identified on the legislator’s personal or official Web site. Maintain flexibility concerning the time and place of the meeting to increase the chances that the request will be favorably considered.

    Follow up with a telephone call. Call the legislator and/or office to make sure the request was received and is under consideration. Be prepared to send the request again because such inquiries are frequently "lost."

    Know your stuff. Research the legislator's background as well as the bills he or she introduced in the most recent session. Find at least one positive thing to reference in this regard, whether it be biographical or policy related. Review legislation of interest to urologists at aacuweb.org and talking points related to "our" issues.

    Inviting legislators to your own office for a tour is an equally effective tool. Tips and a pre-addressed template may be reviewed online. Visit aacuweb.org and click through to "Action Alerts." Check the appropriate targets and be prepared to follow up.

    State advocacy conference will inspire action

    The most important meeting for urologists hoping to impact state policies will take place Sept. 24-25, 2011, in suburban Chicago.

    At the AACU State Society Network Advocacy Conference, experienced physician advocates, thought leaders, and policy experts will address critical issues in an engaging and thought-provoking manner. An impressive agenda has been developed to equip you with tools to protect your patients, practice, and specialty.

    More than half of all urology state society presidents will be in attendance at this year's event, as will the presidents of the AACU, AUA, and Large Urology Group Practice Association. Washington State Senator Randi Becker, a former urology practice manager, will also be on hand to receive a distinguished leadership award.

    AACU members and urology's allies may still register by visiting aacuweb.org or calling AACU headquarters at (847) 517-1050.

    To learn more about legislative issues in your state, please visit AACU's Action Center today at www.aacuweb.org

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