Advocacy

Communicating with Congress

There are several ways to communicate with a member of Congress. They include written letters, e-mail, telephone calls, meeting with legislators, and participation in congressional hearings

Writing to an Elected Official
Writing letters can be an effective means of keeping your legislators informed about who you are, your concerns about health care policy, and how federal health care policies are affecting your facility and the community. Legislators rely on letters to find out what most people back home are thinking. Letter writing can also be your first step in building an ongoing relationship with your legislators.

In writing letters keep the following in mind:

  • Be brief, present your position and reasoning as concisely as possible.
  • Your purpose for writing should be stated in the first paragraph of the letter. If your letter pertains to a specific piece of legislation, identify it as, for example, House bill: HR____, Senate bill: S____.
  • Address only one issue in each letter; and, if possible, keep the letter to one page.
  • Writing your own letter is more effective than signing a petition or duplicating an obvious form letter.
  • Concentrate on the effect health care legislation will have on people (voters), such as those you serve, others in the community, and your employees. Arguments centering on the organization's self-interest will be less persuasive.
  • Give your credentials when appropriate. Let the legislator know if you have specific experience in the issues.
  • Mention if you have met the legislator or have a special connection.
  • Do not write if you can use another method of communication—specifically, personally visiting the district or state office, or in Washington, DC. Then following up with a letter is more effective than a letter alone.
  • Send CHA's Washington, DC, office copies of your correspondence. Having an organized database of its members and their actions is very important to CHA.
  • Follow up. Never write one letter; always send a second. If your members of Congress ultimately adopt your plan, thank them. If not, inform them that you know and are disappointed.
  • Attach a copy of your organization's community benefit report.

Note: When writing to a committee chair or the Speaker of the House, it is proper to address them as:

Dear Mr. Chairman or Madam Chairwoman
Or Dear Mr. Speaker

To send hard copy letters, it is best to fax the letters to the member's office and then put the hard copy in the mail. The addresses are listed below:

The Honorable (Full Name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable (Full Name)
U.S. Senate
Building
Washington, DC 20510

Fax number can be obtained at:

www.senate.gov
or
www.house.gov

Fax the letter to the attention of the Legislative Director.