Congress has just two weeks to take action to ensure that stroke survivors on Medicare maintain access to an adequate level of outpatient therapy services. If they fail to act, survivors who are most severely impacted by their stroke and who have more than one stroke or other injury in 2014 could lose access to therapy services critical to their recovery. We’re working to make sure this devastating policy doesn’t take effect. Find out how you can help by sending a message to your members of Congress on this issue or calling their offices about it. It only takes a minute to make a big difference for the entire stroke community.
In January, state legislatures across the country will be back at work. We’ve made it easy for you to keep up with what’s going on in your state legislature related to stroke. Our State Advocacy Action Center provides information specific to your state including:
Most importantly, we’ve made it easy for you to take action on stroke-related legislation. We’ll send you an email letting you know there’s an issue pending in your state. When you receive one, just follow the directions in the message. We give you the option of sending a pre-written message to your state legislators (with the ability to personalize it) or calling your legislators’ offices.
What can you do now to prepare for the 2014 legislative sessions? Use the action center to identify who represents you in your state capital, learn how a bill becomes a law and how you can influence that process and view one of our online advocacy training sessions.
Visit our State Advocacy Action Center today. It only takes few minutes to make a big difference for the stroke community in your state!
Your stroke support group can make a difference for stroke survivors across the country. How? Watch our online session titled How to Quickly and Easily Mobilize Your Support Group for Maximum Advocacy Impact. You’ll learn ten quick and easy steps you can take to engage your group members in political advocacy activities. To make a difference, stroke survivors must tell their stories to their elected officials. It’s the only way for those officials to know what they can do to represent your concerns. Support groups have a real opportunity through a ready-made structure to get legislators educated and taking action on stroke-related issues. Make that goal a reality by watching this presentation and adding an advocacy discussion to your next meeting.
Now is a perfect time to reinvigorate your commitment to advocacy. Use this monthly calendar to create a timeline for your advocacy activities throughout the year. And remember that this outline is simply a guide. You can (and should) undertake many of these activities on an ongoing basis to maximize your effectiveness as an advocate. For example, you don’t need to wait until June to connect with policymakers on social media. You can do it today!
January – Legislator Outreach: January is a time for new legislators to start “learning the ropes.” Use this as an opportunity to introduce them to stroke and the daily challenges faced by stroke survivors, caregivers and their families. You can do that with a simple email, letter or phone call to their office. Remember that talking to the staff working in a legislator’s office is like talking to the legislator (your message will be passed along).
February – Follow the Dollars: At many levels of government, February marks the start (or continuation) of the budget process. Check out the National Priorities Project at www.nationalpriorities.org for a citizen-friendly overview of the U.S. budget process. Local media outlets often talk about legislator’s budget work. Our State Advocacy Action Center has links to media outlets in your state that run stories on political issues, including state budgets.
March – Hone Your Message: To be agreed with, you’ll need a message that resonates with your legislators. Build that kind of message by learning more about the issues that matter to them. You can find out what your legislators are interested in by visiting www.house.gov (for House members) and www.senate.gov (for Senators), find their personal pages and read the “issues” section of their websites. You should also develop your own message, or your stroke story. You can browse our Faces of Stroke gallery for examples. Our Advocacy Toolkit also has instructions about how to develop your story.
April – Make a Relationship Building “Ask”: You don’t always have to ask a legislator to take action on a particular bill. You can simply ask him or her to make a public statement about stroke, talk to your stroke support group or visit your healthcare facility (if you’re a healthcare provider). Think about actions they could take to get them actively engaged in stroke issues (that they could actually accomplish).
May – Get to Know the Staff: In many cases, getting to know staff people can move your issue forward even faster than getting to know the legislator. Staff are the “eyes and ears” of legislators in the district. Take a moment in May to research your legislators’ office and find the person who handles healthcare issues. We can help you find out who represents you and how to contact them.
June – Social Media Outreach: Social media is here to stay and can be an incredibly useful tool for effective advocacy. “Like” your legislators on Facebook (you don’t have to actually like them). Find mutual connections on Linked-In. Follow them on Twitter. All these steps will give you new insights in to their interests and actions.
July – Schedule Site Visits: Showing a legislator or staff person something “on the ground” helps them understand how what you’re asking for connects to the people they represent. August is a prime time for visits, so get going now on scheduling. We’ve created a “how-to” guide that walks you through the process of setting up a site visit for your legislators.
August – Election Strategies: Getting like-minded citizens out to vote helps get people who understand your views in to office. This, in turn, makes it far more likely that legislators will agree with your views and vote the way you want. Consider running a voter registration drive or becoming engaged in get out the vote efforts in your community. You’ll be making a difference on your policy issues and for democracy as a whole!
September – Town Halls: Legislators often set up meetings in their districts to hear the views of their constituents. This is particularly true during an election year like 2014. Find out when these meetings will take place and make plans to attend. Who knows? If you stop by a little before or after you may be able to talk to the legislator directly. What do you talk to them about? Just tell them your story. It’s that simple.
October – Build Coalitions: Coalitions can make or break your cause. When considering coalitions, ask yourself who might serve as good coalition partners, either because they support my cause or because they have good relationships with legislators.
November – Vote: The easiest thing you can do as an advocate is register to vote and show up to the polls on election day. Remember that some states have deadlines to register to vote. Make sure you know when your state’s deadline is and get registered.
December – Lather, Rinse, Repeat: Use December to reflect on your efforts over the past year. Determine what worked and what didn’t and how you can improve your advocacy efforts next year.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be on your way to effective advocating–and making a difference for stroke survivors across your state and across the country!