Q: What is National ASC Week?
Danielle Kaster: Each year, members of Congress typically spend the entire month of August in their home states, taking advantage of opportunities to meet with their constituents and gain a better understanding of what is happening in the districts they represent.
At ASCA, we encourage ASCs to take advantage of that time to build relationships with their representatives. Every August, ASCA sponsors National ASC Week. This year, from August 7–11, ASCA members who participate will host open houses for the public so they can see what an ASC is and how they provide value to their communities. Local and federal officials invited to participate in these events tour facilities and can see firsthand the role ASCs play in delivering cost-effective, outpatient surgical services.
During last year's National ASC Week, we had 20 members of Congress visit ASCs. This year, we have just as many scheduled.
In all of 2016, ASCs hosted 65 facility tours for their members of Congress. Of the 65 members who visited ASCs, more than half of them signed on to support ASC legislation. This shows that facility visits are an effective way to educate Congress. When legislators learn about what we do, they often come on board.
Q: What does a facility tour entail?
DK: ASCs typically walk their congressional visitors through what a patient would experience in the surgery center, from registration, to pre-op, to the operating room, recovery, and discharge. Sometimes members observe cases.
The tour is usually followed by a roundtable discussion about ASC legislation and the issues the surgery center is facing within its state. ASCA tries to help the congressional office prepare for the visit by providing issue briefs and a state fact sheet in advance so the representative comes in knowing what the ASC wants to discuss. We also provide ASCs that are conducting tours with issue briefs and talking points so everyone feels comfortable discussing the ASC agenda.
Q: ASCA puts a lot of effort into connecting ASCs with members of Congress, as evidenced by the work put in during National ASC Week, the Capitol Fly-Ins and events like National Advocacy Day, which was held during the ASCA 2017 annual meeting. Why are these interactions between ASCs and Congress so important?
DK: People often feel their opinion does not matter to their representatives or that there is so much going on in the Capitol it is difficult or impossible for the ASC community to gain Congressional attention, but that is far from the truth.
According to a 2015 study by the Congressional Management Foundation, face-to-face meetings between a constituent and a member of Congress remain the most effective and persuasive form of communication. We really need our members to speak up about what is happening in their surgery center and state because it does matter. Members of Congress and their staff want to hear from the people who work in surgery centers in their districts, whether these people come into D.C. for a fly-in, send emails, write letters, or invite members of Congress to their facility. These are all great ways to build strong relationships and educate our representatives.
In addition, the success of our legislation and the ASC industry hinges upon our members' involvement. During National Advocacy Day this year, more than 300 people visited Capitol Hill. This was the largest presence we have ever had in D.C. at one time. Hopefully we can carry that energy and enthusiasm forward throughout the whole spectrum of our advocacy efforts and opportunities.
If you have questions about National ASC Week or other opportunities to engage members of Congress, contact Danielle Kaster at email@example.com.