Health Care Advocacy
ad-vo-ca-cy (AD-vuh-kuh-see) – noun; the act of supporting, recommending, or pleading on issues of concern.
What Can You Do
If you support health care reform, you can become an advocate simply by speaking out and letting others know what issues concern you and what steps you support to bring change. This can be something as simple as talking to friends and family members about the impact of a health care law, as formal as sitting down and talking to your government representatives about your views, or as involved as actively participating in efforts to bring about change in laws or policies.
Health care advocacy can take place at the local, state, or federal level. Cities make decisions that affect local social and health programs; state legislatures propose and vote on health care issues, the Governor signs or vetoes the bill; and the representatives in Congress make laws at the federal level, which are then approved or vetoed by the President.
Write or talk to your government representatives about the health care issues that concern you. Follow the ongoing proceedings of the government agencies in issues related to health care and stay informed on the pending legislation.
Those who are passionate about reforming health care may also want to learn more about being an effective advocate and knowing how to best exert their influence. The following tips will explain how you can be a better advocate for health care issues in your community.
Advocacy Tips for Expanding Your Influence
- Get others involved – your influence is multiplied when you can get others to join you in with your efforts; talk to people, explain the issues, share with them what they can do to make a difference
- Share your experience with others – health care problems lets you share your health care problems with others to help identify how and where the US health care system fails it’s citizens
- Contact a non-profit or foundation organization involved with health care reform – ask how you can best support their efforts, from volunteering your time to donating money, especially during elections or concerning pending legislation
- Contact your representatives in government – share your views, show support or disapproval for pending legislation
- Write a letter to the editor – writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper is one creative way of sharing your views and letting others know what they can do to help
Advocacy Tips for Influencing Congress
- Call your representative – a telephone call is a good way of letting your legislator know your views on an issue, and every call makes a difference; to find the telephone number, look in the government pages of the phone book, call information, or call the Washington DC switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representative’s or Senator’s office
- Write a letter – letters can make a difference, as they help a legislator know what their constituents back home are thinking
- Send an Email – sending a letter via Email to your representative is another way to express your views on an issue and pending legislation; to find an Email address go to www.senate.gov or www.house.gov
- Visit your representative – legislators usually visit their home district from time to time; either attend a home town meeting or ask if you can schedule a time to meet individually
- Stay informed – in order to know the issues and contact your representative you can find information on pending legislation, copies of bills, and congressional schedules at the congressional website known as “Thomas” (as in Thomas Jefferson) at http://thomas.loc.gov
Advocacy Tips for Influencing the President
If you want to share your views on health care issues and pending laws with the President you will want to write or call the White House. The Administration uses telephone calls and letters to measure public opinion. Contacting the President can be just as important as contacting your representatives in Congress.
- When writing a letter or Email, start with “Dear Mr. President”
- The Email address is President@WhiteHouse.gov
- You can call the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111 to register your opinion on a particular issue and leave a response using your touch-tone phone or with an operator
- The White House fax number is (202) 456-2461
Make A Difference
Every person can make a difference – share your views with others in your community, join a grassroots advocacy group, and contact your representatives in government. Those who are passionate about health care issues and get involved will be the ones to bring about change.