The Doctor’s Advocate | Second Quarter 2023
Government Relations Report

Driving Positive Outcomes in the Professional Liability Advocacy Arena

Remi Stone, JD, Director, Government Relations, The Doctors Company

The pace of legislative sessions and volume of introduced public policy proposals can be overwhelming. Despite the seeming pandemonium, however, it is imperative for healthcare practitioners to weigh in on matters of importance and to have the tools to communicate effectively.

We know from experience that the most powerful advocates are healthcare practitioners, whose daily life experiences can inform legislators about the substantial impact that legislation has on the provision of healthcare.

Healthcare professionals are trusted experts who bring valuable perspectives to many issues affecting healthcare provision and access. Practitioners are uniquely positioned to provide insights on a range of policy proposals concerning their patients and practices.

During the first three months of 2023, state and federal elected officials introduced more than 141,000 proposed laws. Of those, TDC Group is tracking more than 3,550 legislative proposals that could affect our members’ ability to practice and their professional liability. We are actively advocating on many of those proposals.

A number of the most concerning bills are intended to roll back medical liability and tort reform laws. These types of bills are promoted by trial lawyers who take advantage of a landscape in which many policymakers have little knowledge of past medical liability crises. If these bills are passed into law, our members will find it more difficult to provide services, and patient access to healthcare will become more challenging.

We often work with members who want to engage directly with policymakers on a specific legislative matter. We also assist members who are involved in advocacy efforts through an organization representing healthcare professionals. Involvement might mean a grassroots call to action or meeting directly with elected officials.

The advocacy process encompasses two critical aspects: the long game, in which individuals and organizations develop trust, goodwill, and influence as educators on complex issues; and the short game, which focuses on immediate efforts and actions. It is important to invest in both aspects of advocacy.

The Long Game

Political capital, an invisible currency that must be earned over time, distinguishes a trusted partner from those who are not looking for a durable presence in the public policy arena. Building political capital includes pursuing policies that make sense, articulating a clear goal or mission, protecting credibility, and achieving large and small successes.

Consider introducing yourself to the elected officials who represent you. Your local member of Congress and state legislators typically have offices in their districts where you can meet with them. In-person meetings are a great way to establish yourself as a trusted resource on healthcare issues that policymakers can turn to when issues arise.

The Short Game

Sooner or later, healthcare practitioners who are invested in the long game and good public policy outcomes will face an issue that demands timely action. Recently, members have actively engaged in educating New Mexico’s legislators about the threat to their outpatient facilities caused by changing the state’s medical liability laws and in advocating in New York to ask the governor for a veto to stop a wrongful death proposal that would have a chilling effect on access to healthcare.

In the examples above—and in response to many more legislative proposals around the nation—our members have employed advocacy tools that make it easier to engage with and educate policymakers on the real-life consequences of their decisions. The basic elements that follow can help you achieve a positive legislative interaction.

Connect the Dots

  • Identify who you are: Are you or your patients constituents? Do you deliver healthcare in the legislator’s district? Make a brief, compelling case about the nature of your practice and why you care about the proposal.
  • Tie a personal insight to the proposal and your position; the power of a lived experience is an unmatched advocacy tool.

Keep It Simple

  • Be succinct. Time with legislators is often short and they are juggling a variety of issues. They usually won’t have time for a full tutorial, but they will benefit from a brief description of the positive or negative effects of a proposal.
  • Stay focused on the topic at hand and resist the urge or an effort to redirect the conversation to an unrelated matter.

Offer Your Expertise

  • Share your knowledge. As a healthcare expert, you know firsthand how changes to the law can upend access to care.
  • Leave the door open to serve as a future resource on healthcare or liability matters.

Protect Your Credibility

  • Never hesitate to admit when you don’t know the answer. Let your legislator know that you will follow up with the answer. Credibility is your number-one asset for longevity with policymakers.
  • Never underestimate the importance of being respectful and pleasant, even when discussing difficult or highly charged issues.
  • Be courteous to staff and others in the legislative space. Staff and advocates are often around the capitol longer than elected officials are, and they possess a wealth of institutional knowledge.

Manage Expectations

  • Maintain realistic expectations about what a legislator can do to address an issue. Limitations may stem from the political environment, committee assignments, or lack of jurisdiction over a problem.
  • Prepare yourself for incremental change. Immediate action is not likely.

The goal of an interaction is to leave an elected official with the view that you are a valuable partner in developing public policy, the expert in the room, and a source of credible information.

If you have questions about the legislative process or a proposal, we are here to help. We can also assist in helping you advocate effectively for positive outcomes for your practice and patients. Call us at (800) 421-2368 or email us.


Advocating for our members has been at the core of The Doctors Company’s mission since our inception. We have played an instrumental role in passing historic medical liability tort reform legislation on behalf of all healthcare professionals nationwide. We continue to fight to enact, preserve, and defend medical liability reforms through legislative and judicial advocacy.

To learn more about advocacy in your state and how you can help us protect medical liability reforms for all healthcare practitioners, please visit our Legislative, Regulatory, and Judicial Advocacy page.

The Doctor’s Advocate is published by The Doctors Company to advise and inform its members about loss prevention and insurance issues.

The guidelines suggested in this newsletter are not rules, do not constitute legal advice, and do not ensure a successful outcome. They attempt to define principles of practice for providing appropriate care. The principles are not inclusive of all proper methods of care nor exclusive of other methods reasonably directed at obtaining the same results.

The ultimate decision regarding the appropriateness of any treatment must be made by each healthcare provider considering the circumstances of the individual situation and in accordance with the laws of the jurisdiction in which the care is rendered.

The Doctor’s Advocate is published quarterly by Corporate Communications, The Doctors Company. Letters and articles, to be edited and published at the editor’s discretion, are welcome. The views expressed are those of the letter writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or official policy of The Doctors Company. Please sign your letters, and address them to the editor.