VA Provider Equity Act - Step-by-Step Calling Instructions

VA Provider Equity Act Act (S 1871/HR 1058) 

Take Action Today

Use these steps to contact your US senators to ask them to support the VA Provider Equity Act (S 1871) by passing the Caring for our Veterans Act (S 2193). Overall, be persistent but polite! The legislation has already been passed by the US House, so these instructions focus on what to say to your US senators. 

Central message: Legislation to resolve long-standing recruitment and retention problems for podiatric physicians at the Veterans Health Administration.

Step 1. Identify your US representative/senators. On APMA's eAdvocacy website, your elected officials are identified by clicking on the Federal Advocacy tab on the top of the page.

Step 2. Determine if your elected officials are already cosponsors of our legislation. 

If your senator is already a cosponsor, then simply ask them to vote in favor of passage of the Caring for our Veterans Act (S 2193) which is likely to be voted on before the end of the year. If your senator is not a cosponsor, then we need your collective phone calls to urge that he or she sign on to S 1871 AND vote in favor of S 2193 when it's brough up for a vote this month. It is important to keep it simple, so when speaking with congressional staff members, refer to bill number S 1871 and S 2193 when you are speaking to a Senate office.

Step 3. Call the Capitol switchboard (202-225-3121) to get your phone call connected to the appropriate Senate or House office. Alternatively, from eAdvocacy, you can find direct-dial information by clicking the "Federal Advocacy" link on the top of the screen.

Step 4. Greet the staff member answering the phone by providing your name and stating that you are a constituent and a podiatric physician from (city/county, state), and ask to be connected to the senior staff member responsible for VA issues. If you are asked what your call is regarding, say "legislation to resolve recruitment and retention problems facing VA" and that you would like to discuss the senator's support.

Step 5. If you get connected to voicemail, leave your name and where you live and ask that the person please call you back at a time and phone number convenient to you "to discuss support for S 1871, The VA Provider Equity Act, AND to request that the Senator vote in favor of S 2193 when it comes before the full senate."

Step 6. If you get connected live to health-care staff, here are some helpful talking points for your discussion. Be sure to review these points prior to making your call(s).

Hello! My name is _____________ ,and I am a constituent and podiatric physician from (CITY). I am calling today to encourage Senator (NAME) to add his/her name as cosponsor of the VA Provider Equity Act (S. 1871), AND vote in favor of passage of the Caring for our Veterans Act (S 2193) when it comes before the full Senate this month.

WHO INTRODUCED THE BILL?

The VA Provider Equity Act (S. 1871/HR 1058), was introduced in the House by Representative Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and in the Senate by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA). This bill will resolve long-standing recruitment and retention problems for VA podiatric physicians, which will result in improved wait times for veteran patients seeking expert foot and ankle medical and surgical care, which will result in reduced expenses for the VA through improved care coordination. The US House of Representatives already passed this legislation by voice vote on July 19, 2017. And on November 29, 2017 the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs added the bill to the Caring for our Veterans Act (S 2193) which has been dischraged frm committee and is on its way to the floor of the Senate to be scheduled for a vote. 

WHY IS THIS BILL NEEDED?

Current wait times for veteran patients seeking an appointment with a VA podiatric physicians are among the worst for any VA health-care providers. In many parts of the country, patients have to wait a month or longer to get an appointment—this delay in service often results in wounds becoming ulcers, ulcers becoming infected, infections becoming gangrenous, all resulting in amputations that could have been prevented if the patient had adequate access to care.

WHAT ABOUT OPPOSITION TO, OR SUPPORT FOR, THE BILL?

There is no opposition to the VA Provider Equity Act (S. 1871). In fact, earlier this year, APMA leadership worked diligently with the leadership of the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) and the Association of Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons (AOFAS) to enlist the endorsement from these organizations for the bill. The bill is also supported by the Disabled American Veterans, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Paralyzed Veterans of America, the American Legion, and the Veteran’s Administration (VA). The US House of Representatives passed this bill on July 19, 2017, by voice vote. 

HOW MUCH WILL THIS COST?

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that this legislation will cost approximately $100 million over the next decade. But what CBO can’t estimate is how much money will be saved by getting those veteran patients in to see a podiatric physician when they need to, and how much will be saved by not having to send those patients outside VA for services (currently, podiatry is the third most outsourced service under the CHOICE Act).

QUESTIONS?

If there are any questions about the legislation that you cannot answer, please do not hesitate to refer the question to APMA’s Director of Legislative Advocacy Benjamin J. Wallner at bjwallner@apma.org or 301-581-9231. You may share his contact info with the office if they would like to inquire directly, otherwise you should contact Wallner to ask him to contact the Senate staff on your behalf. 

FINAL "ASK"

I would greatly appreciate your boss signing on as a cosponsor of the VA Provider Equity Act (S. 1871), AND voting in favor of the Caring for our Veterans Act (S 2193) when it comes up for a vote.

REACTION!

  • If the staff agrees to look at the bill and any accompanying info and then talk to the senator, ask, "Okay, when would be a good time to call back and follow-up? Two weeks from today?" Get a definite date and follow up with another phone call on the agreed date. 
  • If they agree to cosponsor, thank them and ask if you can give them the contact information for the office to call to add their name: David L. Brewer (david_brewer@cassidy.senate.gov), or Maria Sierra (maria_sierra@cassidy.senate.gov) in Sen. Bill Cassidy’s office (202-224-6820).
  • If they say they will not cosponsor at this time, ask if there are any outstanding issues or information you can provide for them. For some offices, we may agree to disagree on this issue, but there will be other areas where we can work together. 

CLOSE THE LOOP!

This is the most important step. Please contact APMA's legislative advocacy staff to close the loop and let us know that you made this contact with your elected officials, and the outcome of your calls.

Take Action Today

Visit APMA's eAdvocacy website to take action on this important legislation today!


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