Public testimony is an important part of the policymaking process. It’s one way that legislators get up to speed on the issues confronting them. As a physician, your testimony on health care policy lends gravity and expertise that can help determine whether or not a bill becomes a law.

Also? It can even be fun—if you follow these four simple rules:

Be respectful.

Everyone has a different style when it comes to testifying, but no one’s experience will be improved by letting their emotions get the best of them. When you are called, you begin with "Madam Chair, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee". Introduce yourself very distinctly so the transcriber can understand, let them know you are a member of CSMS, mention your town and the number and title of the bill you're testifying on. 

Be honest.

Indiciate whether you support the bill, oppose it, or are offering suggestions to improve it. Then explain your reasoning. it’s entirely possible that your testimony may spur questions from legislators. Sometimes you’ll know the answer and can provide it on the spot. But if there’s even a shred of doubt in your mind, err on the side of caution and offer to follow up with more information.

Be brief.

Keep your remarks short; 3 minutes is usually enough, but be sure not to exceed the time limits. If other speakers have already made your point, you can say that you agree with, or want to associate yourself with the remarks of one or more previous speakers. 

Be a resource.

Your testimony may win the day, but more likely, the issue you care about will require further negotiation. Make sure that legislators know they can call or email you if questions arise in a week or a month (put your contact information in your written testimony).

At CSMS, our advocacy team is on the ground in Hartford every day during legislative sessions, and we’re always looking for physicians who can lend their expertise in public hearings. If you have an issue you’re passionate about and are willing to testify, contact the CSMS Offices at 203-865-0587.