AMS has a lot on its plate. We will be asking legislators to file numerous bills that address issues and concerns affecting your practice and your profession. We will be fighting a mountain of legislation that threaten or interfere with your practice and how you take care of patients. AMS physician leadership and legislative staff will spend countless hours working on your behalf.
Where will you be?
Your primary focus is and should be, taking care of your patients. However, there is another side of your profession that should not be ignored. Yes, you are an advocate for your patients. But you are also, or should be, an advocate for your profession.
Because we understand your first priority is direct care of your patients, AMS tries to make advocacy as easy as possible and consume as little time as necessary. While the General Assembly is in session, we will provide you with regular updates on the various bills as they are introduced and move through the legislative process.
The time will come, however, when we will need you to be an advocate.
That usually takes the form of a “legislative alert” or a “White Coat Alert.” When you receive those, it means it is time to use your influence as both an advocate for patients and for your profession. We may simply ask you to make a phone call or send an email to “your” legislator. Occasionally, when the stakes are extremely high, you’ll get a White Coat Alert. That means that passage or defeat of a piece of legislation depends on physicians showing up at the Arkansas State Capitol.
These are very difficult for physicians because it is usually short notice and always during the week when physicians are seeing patients. However, the importance of a White Coat Alert should not be underestimated. Those representing the “other side” of an issue will certainly show up. Legislators voting on that issue will know the “other side” is there. The inescapable conclusion is that if physicians are not there, it must not be that important.
Think of it like a town hall meeting. If half the town turns out to voice their concern, the city leadership will see the importance of the issue and it will influence their decision. Your presence will absolutely make a difference in the outcome of the legislation’s success or failure.
When we ask physicians to come to the Capitol it means we need to see more “white coats” than blue suits. We understand the difficulty and disruption it causes in your practice. Rest assured that if we ask for your presence the stakes are extremely high. Likewise, legislators know how hard it is for you to show up at the Capitol and your presence is a signal to them that the issue is significant.
So, as the legislative session ramps up please… please… be an advocate.