Former congressional staffer offers ‘dos and don’ts’ for O&P advocates

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A former congressional staffer offered a list of “dos and don’ts” to O&P professionals here as they prepared to meet with lawmakers as part of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association Policy Forum.

Never assume a senator, representative or staffer understands what the O&P profession entails, Stephanie A. Kennan, senior vice president of federal public affairs for McGuireWoods Consulting, advised forum attendees preparing for their visits to Capitol Hill.

Kennan, who spent 10 years as health policy advisor for Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., emphasized that the use of jargon is a “don’t” and can isolate the listener or cause him or her to tune out. Financial terminology also should be avoided, according to Kennan, especially with staffers who are trained in policy rather than business.

“They most likely have never run a business,” Kennan said.

Kennan reviewed some common questions along with Thomas F. Fise, JD, executive director of the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA), who advised attendees to know the basics about each lawmaker before entering a meeting.

Preparation is a “do,” according to Fise. Whether the lawmaker is a democrat or a republican, is a member of any committees, and whether he or she is attending the meeting in-person or being represented by a staffer can all affect meeting strategy, he said.

Surpassing the allotted time for the meeting (usually half an hour) is another “don’t,” according to Kennan, who advised attendees to focus on a few priority issues rather than covering a host of topics.

“If you cannot say it in 15 minutes, you probably should not be saying it,” she said. – by Amanda Alexander

Source: Alexander A. O&P News.


Kennan S. Your mock congressional visit. Presented at: American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association Policy Forum. March 23-25, 2015; Washington, D.C.

Disclosure: Kennan reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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