How-To Contact Your Representative During Recess
By Jennifer Bertsch on Thursday, June 29th, 2017
What are these meetings all about? These meetings are about you!
When your Representative, and other members of Congress are back in their districts during a congressional recess, they need to hear from you! These opportunities are an excellent opportunity for you to ask questions, share your concerns, and find out exactly what your Representative is doing in Congress and share your concerns about the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA).
How to Prepare for this meeting? Once you’ve located the meeting (which we will be assisting you with), there are a few things you should do to prepare for the meeting:
- Find your people: Call your friends, acquaintances, allies and support group. Come together and see who would want to go together!
- Prepare questions for your group to ask: This is an excellent opportunity for you to talk about issues that impact you directly — share your story, make it personal, but be direct. We recommend that each person ask one question on one issue — it gives you a better chance of getting a direct answer to a direct question.
- Get there early and spread out: Seating can be at a premium and your Representative might want to scan the room for “hot spots” or places that are going to ask s/he hard questions. If you spread out, you’ll have a better chance of all getting heard.
- Know the issues: Healthcare is often difficult to navigate. However, everyone has an experience trying to navigate its complexities. You don’t need to be a doctor or insurance agent to tell your story at a town hall. Your experiences are important. If you’d like to know more, we’ve put together a quick fact sheet on what any consumer friendly and comprehensive healthcare plan needs to have to pass our test. You can find that document here on our fact sheet.
In the Town Hall? Remember, this is about you, your quality of life, and that they work for you!
- Be respectful but determined: Like your community, your Representative has a variety of opinions and you might not agree with them all…and that’s ok…you still want to be respectful. However, you want to be determined — these issues impact the quality of your life and it is important. Make sure to have your question answered!
- Get a commitment: You want a commitment from your Representative to oppose the healthcare bill moving through Congress. After your question, ask, “Millions will lose insurance through the healthcare bills moving through Congress. Will you, Senator X, commit to not voting for any bill that takes away health care coverage from your constituents?”
After the Town Hall?
- Share, share, share: Photos, comments, video should definitely be shared on your social media and should be made public for people to view.
- With any videos or photos, please include the hashtag #ProtectOurCare in all your posts. If your account is not private then your tweets will appear in the campaign tweet stream and will help expand the campaign’s reach.
- Include your Representative/Senator’s Twitter handle in your post by using the @ symbol. You can find your lawmaker’s Twitter account by going to their official website and clicking on the Twitter bird icon.
- Share your awesome activism with Consumers Union. Include the @ConsumersUnion handle in your Facebook posts and tweets so we can share with our social media community.
Can’t Make a Town Hall? Drop by your lawmaker’s office or give them a call! If elected officials don’t hear from you, you’ve got to assume that nobody is speaking to them about issues that impact your life. They need this crucial data to make important decisions, so what are you waiting for?
You can call your Senator — 1.844.311.1880 — and follow the prompts to be heard on the reasons health care matters to you.
If you drop by your lawmakers’ offices
If you can’t find a town hall near you, you can always swing by your lawmakers offices near where you live to share your thoughts in person—no appointment necessary! Feel free to check out our tips below.
Some helpful tips for talking to lawmakers or their staff
Remember, they work for you. Your concerns and personal experiences are important. Here are some general tips for your drop-by:
- Be sure to tell them your name, address, that you voted for them (if you did), and that YOU are their constituent.
- Be calm — share your concerns or story calmly and as a matter of fact.
- Don’t get caught up in the wonkery of an issue. This is about your story — it’s your time to share what has happened to you.
- Make sure you articulate an ask — “Vote NO on this bad healthcare bill!”