Communicating With Your Representative
While a legislator may be an expert on one or two issues, it is impossible for every lawmaker to master every issue likely to come before Congress. Elected officials rely on staff, outside expertise and constituent input to effectively represent the people of their district or state.
An ongoing dialogue with your elected officials is the best way to ensure they understand how their decisions will impact their constituents back home. No one can better explain the complexities of health care delivery and the impact policy changes would have on your organization’s ability to continue delivering care than people like you on the front line.
It is important to build a relationship with your legislators not just contact them when legislation is pending.
Personalize the message
Remind the legislator or staff member of your most recent meeting or interaction. Personalization may mean your message is given closer attention.
Get to the point
Staffers deal with a large volume of email.
Confine yourself to one or two issues
Explain your position as clearly and concisely. Provide your contact information so the staff can reach you if additional information is needed.
Provide a story
Share a personal story that relates to the issue.
Dear Senator Merkley,
As the chief nursing officer and vice president of Legacy Children's Hospital in Portland, I urge you to protect health care coverage for the patients and community I serve. I believe any changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) should continue to provide health care coverage for the tens of millions of Americans who have benefited from the law.
The House-passed American Health Care Act would significantly cut Medicaid and eliminate essential protections for older and sicker patients, including those with pre-existing conditions such as cancer patients and the chronically ill. This would adversely affect the population I have served as a registered nurse - children. Currently, Medicaid covers more than 50% of the children we serve in our community. The cuts in Medicaid would take us back to a time when families waited to get treatment for their child's illness until they were gravely ill because they had no medical coverage.
It is the right of every American to receive high-quality health care and the responsibility of health care providers to ensure they receive it. As the Senate looks to repeal and replace the ACA, I urge you to protect health care coverage, particularly for our most vulnerable. Please do not support any legislation that would harm patients' ability to access the care they need.
Social Media Tips
Nearly all members of Congress have Facebook and Twitter accounts. Follow your senators and representative to see what issues are most important to them and share your views with them. Conversations about what is happening in your community are happening online. Social media provide an opportunity to participate in the dialogue to make sure your voice is heard.
We need a strong investment in nursing research and workforce development @SenatorDurbin. #NoMoreCuts to these vital programs.
Phone Call Tips
Is the issue is urgent?
Call rather than email if the issue is urgent.
Get to the point
Explain who you are and why you are calling.
Have your facts straight and your talking points ready. You only have a few minutes to get your point across.
Be ready to answer questions
Anticipate questions your legislator or the staff member could ask you and have answers. If you are asked a question to which you do not know the answer, say you don’t know but offer to follow up when you have an answer.
Send an email referencing your conversation. Reiterate your points and provide any additional information you’d promised.