Each one of us can make a difference. Together we make change. ~Sen. Barbara Mikulski
Last week, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in years. He and I hadn’t spoken since the election, so as I was catching him up on what I’ve been up to, he just smiled and shrugged.
“Do you really think any of it makes a difference?” he half-asked, half declared.
I just smiled.
Because I know about you.
I know that this country is filled with people like you who woke up on November 9 to a country they couldn’t recognize, and have spent the last 10 months fighting like hell for what’s right.
I know that a government under complete Republican control has been unable to forward their legislative agenda because grassroots activists like you and I have shined the brightest of lights on their darkest ideas. That’s astonishing, really. Let that sink in.
I know that all sorts of conferences, trainings, seminars and networking events are going on all over the country, advising and connecting and preparing us for the fight ahead. We’re only getting more knowledgeable, more prepared – and therefore more powerful.
I know from your e-mails and messages that while you’re overwhelmed, you’re not tuning out. Right this very second, just by reading this, you’re disproving the assumption that we’ll all simply get tired and go home.
Just think of the number of groups and activists that you’ve met and heard of that arose from the election. Some, like the Little Lobbyists (you should read their amazing story here) prove that you can decide to change the world while sitting at a kitchen table eating leftover birthday cake. (Frankly, I think all big decisions should be made while eating cake, don’t you?)
The truth is, we’ve already proven we’re making a difference, because everyday people like you and I have finally given ourselves permission to use the voices that we always had but never thought anyone would listen to.
So don’t believe for one second that you’re not making a difference.
So don’t stop talking.
Let’s get to work.
Tuesday: Call, Call, Call. (Did I mention you should call?)
It’s a four-alarm fire up on Capitol Hill. As I’m sure you’re well-aware, a new health care monstrosity called Graham-Cassidy-Heller is afoot. It’s just as bad, if not worse, than the other repeal bills that we’ve seen descend upon the Senate, and it’s terrifyingly close to having enough votes to pass.
McConnell’s goal will be to whip up enough votes to pass it before September 30, so that he can use a special rule that allows the bill to pass with just a simple majority. So, our next big hurdle is to get past September 30.
The Congressional Budget Office will not be able to provide a full and complete score of Graham-Cassidy before September 30; its preliminary analysis, which is expected to come out next week, won’t be analyzing either coverage or premiums.
Hospitals, health care advocates and providers (and even Louisiana’s Secretary of their Department of Health) have already come out against the bill, but up until this week it had been flying largely under our radar. Our job is to ensure that our Senators understand that we’re paying attention.
Call your Senators.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I’m very concerned about what I’m hearing about the Graham-Cassidy-Heller bill. It eliminates protections for pre-existing conditions, will increase premiums, decrease the number of people that have insurance and will generally be terrible for residents of _____. [insert exasperated sigh if you desire, and your own personal story about healthcare and how this issue impacts you directly.] I strongly urge the Senator to oppose this bill, and I’ll be watching very closely.
Wednesday: Tell Your Senators to FOCUS.
The newest ACA repeal bill threatens another healthcare program that’s already relied upon by millions of children. Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program expires on September 30. There’s already a bipartisan agreement to extend the program for five years, but Congress is spending all of their time and energy trying to pass Graham-Cassidy (and strip healthcare from more Americans).
You can head here to see just how many children will lose their insurance if Congress doesn’t act. (For example, 624,308 Missouri children are enrolled in Medicare and CHIP.) And then call your Senators and tell them that if they really do care about the health of the kids in their state they’ll regain some focus and pass this extension.
Script: Hi, my name is ____ and I’m a constituent at ____. I’m calling because I’m concerned that the extension of the CHIP program has been sidelined while all of the focus is on Graham-Cassidy. There are _____ children in our state that are enrolled in the CHIP program, and if the federal funding for this program isn’t renewed before September 30, their insurance is at risk. That’s crazy! What is the Senator doing to make sure this extension is passed?
Thursday: Head to a Town Hall!
House members are home this week, and some of them are taking their jobs seriously enough to hold some town halls. Go to the Town Hall Project to see if your MOCs have any upcoming events. This is obviously a great time to talk to them about healthcare! And by the way, events are listed all the way up to December, so consider this a regular resource.
Friday: Get Local – Welcome Refugees and Immigrants in Your Community
This week is Welcoming Week 2017 – which hopes to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone into this amazing melting pot of a country. Just yesterday we learned that the Trump administration declined to accept a study from the Department of Health and Human services showing that refugees brought in $63 billion dollars more than they cost over the last decade. Hmm. I wonder why.
So this week let’s amplify the benefits of inclusion and diversity, shall we? There are a number of events being held across the nation as a part of Welcoming Week; use this map to find an event near you. (Perhaps you’ll have better luck with the search function than I did, but zooming in on the map and clicking on individual events works like a charm!).
And just a note – not all events require physical attendance even if they are listed as local events. For example, in St. Louis folks are encouraged to take photos around St. Louis landmarks saying “I am a welcomer” or “St. Louis welcomes you” and posting to social media profiles with hashtags #WelcomingWeek or #IWelcome. Fun!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together.
If you want one more quick action, make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Lastly, if you’d like to support this work (thanks to those who have done so!), you can become a supporter here.