by Lynneece Rooney, CNM, Region V ACNM Government Affairs Committee Representative
August is Midwifery Advocacy month, which means that CNMs and CMs should start thinking about how we can advance legislation that helps improve maternity outcomes in the United States and opens doors for midwifery. Your voice may just be one of many, but it is vitally important—after all, we achieved 100% Medicare reimbursement last year thanks to the grassroots advocacy of CNMs and CMs just like you. You can make a difference!
If you’re short on time, new to politics, or unaware of who your legislator is, fear not: Whatever you can do helps, and we’ve put together a list of ways that you can get involved. The most effective way to participate is to meet face to face with your representative at your practice or their local office, as Congress is in recess for most of August—check out our recent blog with instructions on how to contact your legislators.
You can also write a letter or make a quick phone call! Every little bit counts. Here are six MORE ways you can get involved.
1. Call your US Representative and Senators in their DC offices
Find your legislators here. When you call, ask to speak with the legislative aide who helps with health care and ask them to support and co-sponsor “Maximizing Optimal Maternity Services for the 21st Century Act of 2011(MOMS 21),” H.R.2141—here’s a handy list of talking points. Get an e-mail address for follow-up and future correspondence. See a video of a midwife demonstrating how to speak to legislative staff members about MOMS 21.
2. E-mail or fax a letter to your Representative’s and Senators’ Health Legislative Aide
If you’ve made a phone call (see #1), follow up with an e-mail. Attach any information or resources about midwifery you think may be helpful, including your contact information. Consider including some of these supporting documents: Essential Facts about Midwives, Nurse-Midwifery in 2008, and Midwives as Primary Care Providers.
3. Hold a fundraiser for your Representative or Senator
2012 elections are coming up and legislators are starting to work on their campaigns! Contact us at [email protected] and we’ll help you get started.
4. Involve the media
Ask people you know if they have media contacts. Send the MOMS 21 press release out to local media outlets, and follow up with a phone call. The Ambassador Toolkit gives some great media tips!
5. Don’t sweat the details
Don’t be intimidated—when you talk with your legislators, their health care staff, and the media, discuss the women you serve and obstacles to better care. Should anyone have questions regarding the legislation, they can contact ACNM Federal Lobbyist Patrick Cooney at 202-347-0034 or [email protected].
6. Finally, keep the relationship going!
Once you have established a connection with your legislators or members of Congress, it is vital to maintain it throughout the year with continued communication. Successful advocacy is all about the relationship! Consider e-mailing or calling during National Midwifery Week (October 3-9, 2011) and adding your legislator to your holiday list.
Contact the Government Affairs Committee at [email protected] with any questions or comments and remember to fill out the meeting follow-up form after your visit.