Monday, August 7, 2017

Congress is on Recess: Visit Your Legislators

from National Family Voices:
It's congressional recess (through Sept. 4) … a great time to visit your Members of Congress and/or attend public events where you might be able to talk to them.  Personal visits can be extremely effective, and it’s possible you can even get a meeting with the Senator or Representative him/herself, rather than just a staffer (although staffers are important too). 
At this point it is important to contact both Senators and Representatives because ACA-repeal legislation and proposed cuts to Medicaid can re-emerge in either chamber.  Medicaid cuts in particular may arise in the context of a budget resolution, tax reform bills, and/or CHIP reauthorization.  Although Republicans who have not supported Medicaid or the ACA should be the first priority, it’s also a good idea to contact Democrats and others who have been supportive – first to thank them (especially Senators Collins, Murkowski and McCain), and second to make sure they have the information they need to bolster their positions.
Meetings. You should try to make an appointment as soon as possible, since meeting slots may not be available on short notice.  Try to go with other families and children (but not a crowd) and/or representatives of other relevant organizations.
o   You can find the local office addresses and phone numbers for your Representative and Senators by entering the name of your state at www.contactingcongress.org
o   I recommend reading the tips for meetings with elected officials from bothFamilies USA and the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
o   Families USA has a list of questions you can ask in your meeting here (specifically designed for meetings this month).
o   The Center for Public Representation’s www.protectourmedicaid.org website has a script and background points here.
·         Events. Attend town halls or other public events.  Lists of events are available here and at https://townhallproject.com/.  For tips on preparing an “elevator speech” (very short pitch) you can give to your Rep./Senator if you get a chance to talk to him/her see the tips from the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network

·         Letters and Op-Eds. Write letters to the editor and op-eds for local newspapers.  Here is some help to get you started.  Don’t forget to include a little bit about your own story, or provide a couple examples from families with which you have worked. 

·         Social media.  Continue to utilize social media as a tool.  You can find social media contact info for your Members of Congress atwww.contactingcongress.org. Follow Family Voices on Twitter at@familyvoices and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/FVNational/).  
Messages: See suggested questions from Families USA.  Provide information about your state (see below).
·         Hold members accountable for their votes!  If they voted No, thank them and tell them why you are grateful. If they voted yes, ask them, “Why?”  Tell them to you are disappointed and that you hope they will not support any bills that cut Medicaid or rollback protections for people with pre-existing conditions.  REMEMBER this applies to both the House and Senate!  See how your Senator voted on the three major health care votes at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/07/25/us/politics/senate-votes-repeal-obamacare.html.  See how your Representative voted on the American Health Care Act at https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/115-2017/h256. (Find your Rep. at www.house.gov). 

·         For both Representatives and Senators, ask them to: (1) drop their attempts at repeal of the ACA; (2) instead work together in a bi-partisan manner using the regular order for any needed healthcare solutions; and (3) take Medicaid out of the ACA conversation and oppose any bills that would cut or cap Medicaid.  Talking points here.

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