Be Knowledgeable about HR 676
The more you know about Medicare for All, the better your pitch to your representative will be. Included in this organizing guide is a summary of and a set of talking points about HR 676, but do your own research and make the issue your own. Some particular things to think about as you prepare:
- Check to see if there are any studies about how Medicare for All impacts your state, or conduct your own research if you have the capacity. Phoenix DSA recently conducted such research and has created a simple half-sheet of the findings. Having leave-behind material like this can be very helpful.
- Have some specific facts and figures ready to hand (i.e., 27,000 people in your district do not have health insurance).
- What objections might your representative and/or their staff raise? How will you respond?
Know Your Representative
The more you know about your representative, the better you can move them. Things to consider when researching your representative:
- What has your representative said about healthcare in the past? Is there anything you can use there to pressure them?
- What caucuses and committees does your representative sit on?
- What organizations are close with your representative? Would it be particularly helpful to have representatives from these organizations in your congressional meetings?
- Has your representative accepted money from insurance companies or other healthcare groups? How much and when?
Prepare a Team, Divide up Roles
If you’ve reached out to other groups about being part of your pressure campaign and are prepared to go in to your representative’s office with a team of people representing diverse constituencies, you will make a much greater impact on your representative. Once you have this group assembled, decide who is going to be in the room for the first visit with your representative and divvy up roles as follows:
- 1 Facilitator to open and moderate the meeting and bring leave-behind material for the representative and their staff
- 1 Note Taker to take notes during the meeting
- 1-4 Issue Speaker(s) to review the basic talking points and share personal accounts of how our broken healthcare system has impacted their lives
- 1 Broadcaster who will record your encounter with your representative and/or their staff, and either livestream it or immediately post the content
- 1 Hard Asker who will deliver the final “ask” to your representative
- 1 Validator who follows up with the representative’s office to make sure their answer to the ask is a credible one
People in these roles should prepare note cards for themselves of the basic rap they hope to deliver the day of. This will give you something to reference when you're called to speak, and will help you keep on point and give you something to talk about even if your mind goes blank.
Pick a weekday when they’ll be in their office. You can check the congressional calendar and look for legislative recesses here: https://www.house.gov/legislative-activity. And you can find in-state contact information for your congressperson here: https://www.congress.gov/members.
Call and ask to set up an appointment to meet with them, explaining that you are their constituent, and that you are representing a coalition of groups that want to win Medicare for All. Make it clear that you plan to show up with a team of people representing a diverse constituency. If they are entirely unable to meet, ask if you can meet with their staff.
Sample Meeting Request Letter
We would like to request a meeting with [REPRESENTATIVE] in their district office to discuss HR 676, spearheaded by a coalition of groups working to win Medicare for All.
Medicare for All is a single health insurance system, administered by the federal government, which provides comprehensive coverage that is free at the point of service, provides coverage to all residents regardless of immigration status, and creates a jobs transition program for those currently working in the private healthcare industry. HR 676 is a true Medicare for All bill that would fix our broken healthcare system.
[IF A SUPPORTER:] We are pleased to see that [REPRESENTATIVE] has already been a co-sponsor of HR 676 and are hoping to talk to them about becoming a vocal proponent of Medicare for All.
[IF NOT A SUPPORTER:] We are hoping to talk to [REPRESENTATIVE] about becoming a co-sponsor of HR 676.
We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with [REPRESENTATIVE]. We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact [GROUP REPRESENTATIVE] at [PHONE] [EMAIL].
Thank you for your consideration.
A standard meeting is 15 minutes. Go early, so you can find their office and not miss the window of time which they have set aside for the meeting.
Before the meeting you want to do a practice session with all the people on your team. Everyone who is part of the visit should know their roles and know what they’re speaking about.
Your meetings should run according to the following rough agenda:
- Try to convey only the most important information in your introduction, so you have time to talk about the bills.
- Be sure to mention if you or others in your group are the legislator's constituents! This has a lot of extra impact, as your legislator will know they have to work to earn your vote.
- Tell your legislator what you do, if it relates to your ask. A nurse's aide or the parent of a disabled child will carry more weight on this issue. Use job titles, not acronyms!
- Share talking points and personal stories
- Have a mix of 1-4 issue speakers who can both relay our talking points about HR 676 and also share personal stories about their self-interest in winning Medicare for All.
- If you don't have one of your own, don't hesitate to share the story of a friend or colleague, so long as you're sure you have accurate information. Or, better yet, bring them along to tell it!
- Keep it short, keep it on point, but don't be afraid to make an emotional appeal. If you didn't feel strongly about these issues, you wouldn't be there.
- Your ask
- Never leave without making your ask! This is why you're there. If your representative is not a supporter of HR 676, this should be your primary ask. If your representative is already a co-sponsor, ask them to join the Medicare for All caucus, or to sign on to our 5 principles.
- Don't allow your representative to divert from answering by asking an open-ended question. Make sure there’s a clear way to respond to your ask: “Yes, I will sign on to these 5 principles.”
- Answer any questions they might have
After the meeting be sure to have your Validator follow up with the representative and their staff to make sure they’ve done what they said they would do.
And if you find that your legislator is very supportive, build on this! Thank them in person, on social media, and in the press. Give them the kind of positive press that lets them know they don’t need big donors if they have working people on their side.
Sample Pledge Sheet
As a Congressperson from the [#] District of [State] serving in the United States House of Representatives, I am proud to represent the will of my constituents in calling for a universal health program for all residents of the United States, also known as “Medicare for All.” Nothing less than legislation that meets or exceeds the following five principles will truly fix our broken healthcare system.
A Single Health Program
Everyone will be covered by one health insurance program, administered by the federal government, and have equal access to all medical services and treatments.
All services requiring a medical professional will be fully covered. You go to the doctor of your choice. Dental, vision, mental health, and pharmaceuticals are all included.
Free at the point of service
All healthcare costs will be financed through tax contributions based on ability to pay: no copays, no fees, no deductibles and no premiums. Ever.
Coverage for all United States residents — non-citizens included.
A jobs initiative and severance for those affected by the transition to government-run healthcare
If you can’t track down your legislator for a meeting, you might consider going to one of your representative’s town halls to put pressure on them. DC DSA successfully pushed Representative Don Beyer to support HR 676 in this way, and you can read more about their action and preparation here.
*Adapted from materials for Our Revolution’s Summer for Progress