Become an advocate for hematology! Each year, your Representatives and Senators make decisions that profoundly affect a wide range of issues impacting hematology research and practice. The American Society of Hematology (ASH) is the leader in representing the interests of scientists and clinicians working in the field of hematology, both on Capitol Hill and within federal agencies. ASH plays a vital role in influencing policies that affect researchers, clinicians, and patients by educating lawmakers and government staff on critical issues affecting hematology research and practice.
But it’s not enough for organizations like ASH to advocate for hematology – policymakers want to hear from constituents, too. In advocacy, there is truly strength in numbers, so ASH is continuously seeking to expand and enhance the Society’s reach by building its Grassroots Network. ASH needs advocates to help advance the issues that directly impact hematology research and practice, as well as hematology patients, including funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH); government activities in sickle cell disease research, training, and services; safe and affordable patient access to prescription drugs and therapies; and issues impacting physician reimbursement.
There are many ways to deliver messages, ranging from calling your legislator’s office or writing a letter to meeting your Senators or Representative or attending a townhall meeting. The resources below provide a set of practical tools and actions you can take to communicate with your elected officials.
Emailing, Calling, and Tweeting to Congress
Emails, calls, and the use of social media can be an effective means of communicating your views to your Representative or Senators. Although House and Senate offices may receive hundreds or thousands of calls, emails or letters on a particular topic, each one is counted and has the potential to make a difference. When a Member of Congress is undecided, the number of communications his/her office receives for or against an issue often contributes to how he/she ultimately votes.
Emailing Your Elected Officials
Sending an email is still one of the most effective ways to contact your Members of Congress; and writing to your legislator has never been easier thanks to the ASH Advocacy Center. Simply click one of the “Action Alerts” on the Society’s priority issues and enter your contact information to automatically send a pre-populated email to all of your elected representatives. You can also choose to personalize your message so that it has an even greater impact.
Visit the ASH Advocacy Center to see the most up-to-date Action Alerts and take action!
Calling Your Legislators
Picking up the phone and calling your legislator’s Washington office is a great way to ensure that your voice is heard and that your elected representative knows how you feel. Find the phone numbers for your Representative and Senators from the House Directory and the Senate Directory. Once you call, you will be connected with a staff member whose job it is to answer and record constituents’ requests via phone. Don’t be discouraged that your Senator or Representative did not personally pick up the phone – they rely on staff to field calls and talk to constituents.
To call your elected officials about the importance of federal funding for research, follow the sample script below and keep the calls short, to the point, and, as always, polite.
Caller: Good morning/afternoon. My name is _____ and I’m a constituent who lives in (town, state). Can you please let Senator/Representative (last name) know that sustained funding for the National Institutes of Health keeps the pipeline to new cures open for the future? I strongly urge the Senator/Representative to continue to support funding for the NIH while the appropriations process continues through Congress. Thank you.
Tweeting to Your Legislators
Twitter is a modern and effective tool to reach out to your elected representatives! Nearly every Member of Congress has a Twitter account, and they use it frequently to both keep in touch with their constituents as well as see the trending topics of the day. Tweet directly at your legislators by using the links below. If you prefer to tweet from your phone, you can find your legislators’ Twitter handles by checking C-Span’s list of Representatives and Senators. Don’t know who your representative is? Look them up here.
Use the sample tweets below to reach out to your elected officials today and tell them to #Fight4Hematology.
@NIH-funded research touches everyone. We can’t afford not to fully fund this vital agency! #Fight4Hematology
Share this tweet
Sickle Cell Disease
Dedicated funding for #SickleCell education & care through @CDC_NCBDDD saves lives. #ConquerSCD
Share this tweet
Meeting With Your Elected Officials
A face-to-face meeting with your Member of Congress, or a member of their staff, is often the best way to voice your thoughts or concerns. Congressional meetings and visits with the NIH are important components of ASH’s advocacy efforts, providing an opportunity for Members of Congress and their staff to gain insight on issues of concern to hematologists. ASH staff, members of the Society’s leadership, and members of the ASH Committees on Government Affairs and Practice regularly meet with congressional offices to highlights issues of importance to hematology research and practice. However, the Society needs the help of all of its members in bringing important issues to the attention of Congress.
If you’re interested in scheduling a meeting with your elected officials, ASH strongly encourages you to let staff in the ASH Government Relations and Practice Department know when you are in Washington, DC, and are available to meet with your congressional delegation. Meetings can also take place in a legislator’s state or district office. ASH staff will work with you to schedule the meeting and will make sure you are prepared to discuss by providing you with relevant talking points and facts sheets in advance of the meeting. ASH staff will also assist with any necessary follow-up after the meeting.
Interested in scheduling a meeting with your Representative and/or Senators? Please contact ASH Legislative Advocacy Manager Tracy Roades at email@example.com or ASH Government Relations Coordinator Foster Curry at firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information.
Town Hall Meetings
Additionally, congressional town hall meetings give constituents a chance to make their voices heard. Such events generally take place in districts during congressional recesses and provide an opportunity for lawmakers to hear from the public on a wide range of concerns. Click here for information on how to locate an upcoming town hall in your area, tips to prepare for attending a town hall meeting, and sample questions to consider asking your elected officials at these events.
ASH has created fact sheets to help provide important background information on certain topics for lawmakers. Use the following fact sheets as a “leave behind” after a meeting with your legislator. These points are also helpful to use in crafting letters and emails and making phone calls.
- Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Support for Sickle Cell Disease
- Access to Palliative Care
These infographics were created to guide conversations between advocates and legislators using accessible, easy to understand images and statistics. These documents are also helpful to use in crafting letters and emails and making phone calls.
Members of Congress and their staff have very hectic schedules and many appointments during the day, and it is important to maximize every minute of your meeting. ASH has created talking points that address a number of issues of importance to hematology to help ensure that you get the most important information across while dealing with limited time. Be sure to read over all talking points before a congressional meeting. These points are also helpful to use in crafting letters and emails and making phone calls.
- Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- Expand Sickle Cell Disease Efforts at CDC
- Access to Palliative Care Talking Points
Articles for Newspaper Opinion and Editorial Pages
If you are interested in writing an article for your local newspaper, the ASH Communications and Government Affairs teams can help. ASH staff can work with you to help write and personalize your article and help guide you through the process of submitting the article to your local news outlets. Contact ASH Government Relations Coordinator Foster Curry at email@example.com for more information.
The ASH Advocacy 101 webinar provides valuable insight for ASH members who want to learn how to get involved in the Society’s advocacy efforts but don’t know where to start. Attendees can learn about the importance of advocating on behalf of hematology and the ASH resources available to be an effective and successful advocate.
ASH has created several videos to show the progress being made in several of the priority areas of hematology research identified in the ASH Agenda for Hematology Research. These videos are important to share with your legislators to illustrate the need for sustained funding for NIH and we encourage you to share the links in your communication with them.