What is a Key Contact? A key contact is an individual who either has a pre-established relationship with an elected representative or is willing to work to establish such a relationship. This relationship will be cultivated by offering yourself as a resource on health policy issues to your elected representative – and becoming a trusted, credible source of such information. Sometimes a key contact relationship is established by virtue of the fact that the elected representative is a patient, went to school with you, attends the same church, synagogue, mosque, etc., or belongs to the same organization, such as Kiwanis or Rotary. In other cases, you may have volunteered to help on his or her campaign or contributed to campaigns over the years.
What is expected of Key Contacts? Key Contacts are expected to be prepared, often on short notice, to contact their representatives on particular bills or issues, and based on information provided to you in advance by MDAFP, be clear with them about how you would like them to vote. You might also be asked to follow up with an elected official after a vote has occurred to thank him or her for supporting the MDAFP position – YOUR position – or ask for a clearer explanation of why the elected official did not vote our way.
How will you know what to say? We also offer individual advice to our Key Contacts as well as training via telephone. Sample letters may be provided when there is sufficient lead time, but often, a quick fact sheet may be emailed to you in advance of a vote, and you might be asked to telephone the representative’s office. Even if you are unable to speak to the representative personally, be sure to leave a message about who you are and what you want. You are encouraged as well, from time to time, to try to meet with your elected representative in his or her district office. MDAFP can help you go about setting up such a meeting.
What impact can I make as a Key Contact? MDAFP believes it is important for its members to build and maintain strong relationships with their elected officials. Your outreach and creditability on health policy are critically important to MDAFP’s legislative victories. These legislative victories are made possible by you contacting your elected officials and asking for their support. As a physician and a constituent, your elected officials will be interested in hearing from you and learning more about the issues that you face as a family physician in Maryland.
How often will I be asked to help? Sometimes a year or more may go by between our requests for contacts, while in other cases, depending on the press of legislative business, you may be asked to make multiple contacts in a single month. It all depends on the issues and the legislation. For example, a representative who chairs the health committee will likely have more Key Contacts and be contacted more frequently than a representative who has introduced only one health care bill in eight years.