This toolkit is designed to provide tips on effectively advocating on Capitol Hill. Your legislators need to hear from you and often. Remember that you have the practical experience and knowledge to help legislators and their staffs understand the implications of policies for their districts and states.
Advocating through Email, Phone and Social Media
NAHC’s Legislative Action Center is a digital grassroots platform that makes it easy for NAHC members to connect with elected officials, and to take action on issues that matter to home care and hospice providers directly from their mobile devices. Today, more than 90 percent of Americans own a cellphone and/or mobile device. NAHC’s Legislative Action Center places social action within reach of all mobile devices. NAHC members, consumers, friends and associated advocacy groups can use the tools to amplify their voices and reach elected officials utilizing traditional email, but also Twitter, Facebook, and phone calls.
NAHC will continue to provide advocates with the most up-to-date information on federally elected officials and their staff names and contact information, as well as continuing to make available all of the detailed information on pending federal legislation – including talking points, briefings, analysis, and other resources developed and compiled by NAHC’s staff of experts.
Advocating through Meetings
Scheduling a Meeting
You may wish to meet with your members of Congress or their staff to discuss issues of importance to you. Typically, meetings can be scheduled in Washington, DC, or in a member’s state or district office(s).
- To schedule the meeting, call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or call the office directly if you have the number. Once connected with your member’s office, ask to speak with the scheduler or staffer that handles health care issues.
- Follow any specific instructions the office or scheduler provides you for scheduling a meeting in that office.
- Be specific about the reason for the meeting and the number of people attending. Providing this information will help the office prepare for your meeting.
- If the member of Congress cannot meet with you on the days you requested, ask to meet with the staff person responsible for health care issues instead. A majority of the information that members of Congress rely on comes from their staffers.
Before Your Meeting
Preparing for the meeting before you arrive will improve your chances to successfully advocate your position.
- Make sure you know what you want to convey and how you want to present that information. Try to limit your discussion to no more than three items.
- Research the member of Congress and their position on home care and hospice issues. The information you find will be helpful in preparing your talking points for the meeting. If your member of Congress has a supportive record on home care and hospice issues, make a note to thank them in person for their support.
During the Meeting
A positive meeting experience will enable you to develop a working relationship with your legislator.
- Dress as if you were going to a business appointment and be on time.
- Be patient and respectful. The Senate and House schedules are unpredictable and last minute changes could mean your meeting starts late or is re-located to another room or even the hallway.
- Be direct and concise in your presentation. If there is an item you want the member to take action on, be sure to specifically tell the member of Congress what it is you want them to do.
- Do not say anything negative or accusatory even if the member says something you disagree with or find offensive. In some offices, all you may achieve at a first visit is a civil exchange of conflicting opinions — “agreeing to disagree” — but if you conduct yourself in a respectful manner, you can begin to establish a working relationship with the office.
After the Meeting
After a meeting, it is crucial to follow up with the office so you may develop a working relationship. Members and staffers work on a wide range of issues, and it is up to you to keep home care and hospice on their minds.
- If you promised to provide information after the meeting, do so as soon as possible
- Send a letter to the member of Congress thanking them for taking the time to meet with you and summarize your discussion. Email a similar note directly to the staff person you met with. If you made a specific request, follow up with the staffer directly to ask about the progress of your request.
- Provide updates for the office when an action alert is issued by HHNA or NAHC.