2017 U.S. Poverty Laser Talk: Talking to a Health Aide about Protecting Medicaid

Below is a sample conversation of talking with a health aide about protecting the Medicaid as the Senate negotiates their health bill. Tailor it to your specific location and members of Congress.

Meredith (RESULTS Volunteer #1): Hello, this is Meredith from Cleveland. May I speak to Kristy? [Note: look up the aide who handles health policy at: http://capwiz.com/results/dbq/officials/]

Receptionist: One moment please.

Kristy (Health Aide): This is Kristy.

Volunteer #1: Hello Kristy, my name is Meredith.  I live in Columbus and I’m a part of the RESULTS chapter here. I know you are busy, so I want to schedule a time for several of us from Ohio to talk with you about the importance of Medicaid for those in our communities. By any chance are you free Friday morning?

Aide: I can do 10:30 am. How many people are you expecting?

Volunteer #1: There will be at least three of us, others may join depending on their work schedules. If you all do not have a conference call line, we can set up one up…


Volunteer #1: Thank you Kristy for making this time work. As background, we are a group of everyday people who raise our voices as volunteers to make sure reducing poverty is a top priority, and there are several RESULTS chapters across Ohio. Let’s go around and introduce ourselves – as I mentioned, my name is Meredith and I live in Cleveland. I am a teacher and the mother of two children.

Sara (Volunteer #2): My name is Sara and I live in Cincinnati, and I am a therapist working with children.

Ginnie (Volunteer #3): And I am Ginnie and I am a retired hospital social worker.

Volunteer #1: As anti-poverty advocates, we are deeply concerned about proposed changes to Medicaid. I imagine you’ve been following the proposed changes to Medicaid passed in the House bill?

Aide: Yes, of course.

Volunteer #1: Then you probably know that Medicaid plays a critical role in providing health coverage for many children in low-income families, seniors, people with disabilities, and others here in Ohio. Block granting or capping Medicaid spending would result in lost coverage, rationed benefits, and end the program as we know it. Capping Medicaid would harm tens of millions of who rely on Medicaid – the House bill cuts $880 billion from Medicaid over the next ten years.

The House bill also effectively ends the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Overall, 24 million Americans, including 14 million who participate in Medicaid, lose their health coverage – and no one’s health care is safe.

I am sure you’ve read the analyses but we thought it would be good to share a story about why Medicaid is so critical.

Volunteer #2: In my work in the hospital, I saw firsthand that access to preventative health coverage was critical.. [plug in a more thorough personal story if possible!]. And, when my son was between jobs, he himself was able to participate in Medicaid because of the expansion under the ACA – that was a critical before he secured health coverage via his new job.

Aide: We’ve been hearing a lot about the importance of the Medicaid expansion in our state.

Volunteer #3: And we appreciate the role your office has played with your fellow senators in highlighting the importance of the Medicaid expansion. As a therapist, I know that access to health care is critical for children and some of the other most marginalized people in our community. We want to particularly voice our concern about cuts and changes to the core Medicaid program as it existed well before the ACA – this is a lifeline for kids, seniors, and people with disabilities. Our request to your boss is: will you tell Senate leadership that you oppose ANY legislation that cuts or restructures Medicaid, ends the Medicaid expansion, or takes away health coverage for millions of Americans?

Aide: Let me talk to him about that. I know he is very concerned about the rising costs of Medicaid

Volunteer #2: Investments in health care, especially preventative care for children or people with disabilities, actually saves us taxpayers money in the long term. Instead of shifting costs to states and therefore rationing care, I think Congress should look at other cost savings in health care overall – by building on the Affordable Care Act.

Volunteer #1: And, to be honest, I have a hard time getting my head around over $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid when the House bill then cuts taxes for millionaires by about $1 trillion.

So, I want to make sure we reiterate our request: will you tell Senate leadership that you oppose ANY legislation that cuts or restructures Medicaid, ends the Medicaid expansion, or takes away health coverage for millions of Americans?

Aide: I need to touch base with the senator on this. I will certainly tell him what we’ve discussed and see what he says. I cannot promise he’ll talk to them. He has some serious concerns about Medicaid and the ACA as a whole.

Volunteer #2: That’s a start and we appreciate it. May I follow up with you in a few days to see what he says? And if he is still hesitant, would you be willing to share his specific objections so we can better understand his position? Maybe we could discuss this with Senator Portman directly, if that would be possible?

Aide: That’s fine. I should get to talk to him early next week. If you call me Wednesday morning, I can give you feedback. As for talking to the senator directly, I can mention it to him but he’s got a pretty busy schedule.

Volunteer #1: Great. I’ll call you at 10 am on Wednesday, if that works for you. Thank you, Kristy.

Aide: That’s fine, Ms. Dodson. I’ll talk to you then.


Additional Resources: 

May Action: http://www.results.org/take_action/may_2017_u.s._poverty_action/

Medicaid Fact Sheets from CBPP: http://www.cbpp.org/research/health/house-republican-health-plan-would-shift-medicaid-costs-to-states

Face-to-Face Meeting Request: http://capwiz.com/results/issues/alert/?alertid=7268106&MC_plugin=2201

2017 U.S. Poverty Requests for Congressional Lobby Meetings:

First 100 Days Meeting Tracker:  http://tinyurl.com/RESULTSLobbyMtgs (before the meeting)

RESULTS Lobby Report Form: www.tinyurl.com/RESLRF (after the meeting)

What Is a Laser Talk?

A laser talk serves as a useful starting point for your advocacy work, whether as a talking points during a town hall meeting or as a primer for face-to-face meetings with candidates and elected officials. Follow up with more information and evidence supporting your points. And of course, adapt a laser talk to reflect your own experiences and why you care about the issue! For more on how to create your own laser talk, see the RESULTS Activist Toolkit: Create and Deliver Your EPIC Laser Talk.