December 2009 U.S. Poverty Action

Use Traditional and “New” Media to Push for Strong Health Reform

Take Action! Use Letters to the Editor and Social Networking Sites to Push for Expanding Health Coverage and Access for Vulnerable Populations

Tailor these talking points — the more personal, the better — and see below for tips on how to construct your piece based on your target media.

  1. If submitting a letter to your local paper or responding to a blog post, refer to recent coverage, ideally a specific article, on health care reform.
  2. Highlight why YOU think fixing our broken health system should be a top priority. A few examples you could use:
    • New data shows that 45,000 people die every single year in the United States because they lack health coverage.

    • Health care expenses are the #1 reason why Americans declare bankruptcy.

    • Rising health costs are crippling the American economy, and especially small businesses.

    • Your own story or that of a family member or friend illustrating why we need reform now.

  3. Voice your support for getting real health reform passed as soon as possible.
  4. Emphasize the investments in providing coverage and access for society’s most vulnerable. In particular health reform will expand Medicaid to cover everyone in or near poverty (133–150 percent of the federal poverty line and below — over one-third of those currently uninsured), and invest in America’s community health center network to provide millions of people access to vital primary health care.
  5. Assert that enacting health reform that strengthens health care for us all is not only smart policy, but the right thing to do. You may choose to stress your concern for “caring for the least of these,” especially during the holiday season, and draw inspiration from the Faithful Reform in Health Care vision statement.
  6. Call on your members of Congress BY NAME to support strong health reform and urge them to strengthen and expand both the Medicaid program and America’s investment in community health centers.

Tailoring Your Message — Targeting Traditional AND “New” Media Are Both Important

In the past, we have succeeded in motivating our elected officials to act through our phone calls, letters, and news media outreach. RESULTS has a long history of success in using print media, especially local newspapers’ editorial pages, to shape events on Capitol Hill. These outlets still have a tremendous influence on local policymakers and community VIPs. When submitting a letter to your local paper, remember brevity is key in letters to the editor (LTE); most newspapers have a 150–250 word limit for LTEs. You can read more about writing letters to the editor in RESULTS tips for writing a letter to the editor and find contact info for your local media in our Take Action Now pages. Be sure to send a published copy of your letter to your members of Congress and the RESULTS office.

However, in order for us to ensure the passage of this modern health care reform bill, we need to take an updated approach to persuading our leaders and decision makers. In the past decade, Facebook has evolved from an entertainment social networking site to a useful and unique tool for lobbying, educating, coordinating, and mobilizing. Political campaigns, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations have all had great success using sites like Facebook and Twitter in conveying their messages to elected officials. Now you can too!

On December 8, a national day of action for those who support health reform that will also include candlelight vigils across the country (or another day of your choosing), you can help us pass health care reform bill by adding RESULTS to your Facebook friends list and “donating your status” to RESULTS. For those of you new to Facebook, donating your status has nothing to do with money. Each person who has a Facebook account has a status line below their name. This allows you to tell people what you may be doing at any particular time. Every time you update your status, all your “friends” on Facebook see that update on their Facebook pages. While most status updates are random thoughts and actions during the day, they are also an ingenious marketing tool that can be used to urge action. “Donating your status” is one way to do this — it is as easy as posting the following message or something similar as your status:

____ is donating my status to @RESULTS.org today because I’m sick and tired of a healthcare system that neglects our sick and tired. It’s time for our elected officials to pass real health care reform that protects our most vulnerable. Please join me by posting this as your status for the rest of the day and help us build a better, healthier country. And call Congress NOW to support health reform.

Typing @RESULTS.org (note: you must type it in and not just paste it from above) tags our page (http://www.facebook.com/RESULTS.org), which allows our staff to track your outreach and progress and encourage others to get involved, and it helps your friends know how to connect with us and make a bigger difference. Facebook limits status updates to 420 characters — just 25 letters longer than the example above. In other words, Facebook will make sure we create even more “laser-like” laser talks. Please also consider posting our action alert on your Facebook Wall or sending it directly via e-mail, Facebook message, Twitter, or text to your friends.

We will discuss our Health Care for All campaign on the December Joint National Conference Call — Saturday, December 12, at 2 pm ET (note the different start time!). To participate, call (888) 409-6709 with your group by 1:55 pm ET.

Tracking Health Reform and RESULTS’ Priorities

This chart is regularly updated on our Recent Developments in Health Care Reform page.

Issue

RESULTS Position

Senate Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (on the Senate floor)

House Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R.3962) — passed 220-215

Strengthening and Expanding Medicaid

Expand Medicaid to include everyone at or below 150% of the federal poverty line (FPL).

Provide for automatic increases in federal funding during economic downturns, i.e. counter-cyclical financing.

Finance Medicaid expansion with 100 percent federal financing.

Preserve existing Medicaid benefits for current and new enrollees.

Expands Medicaid eligibility to everyone at or below 133 percent FPL, beginning in 2014.

Federal government pays 100 percent of the expansion through 2016. States would then bear some of the financial responsibility, up to 10 percent, for the cost of the expansion.

No provisions for counter-cyclical funding.

No language on increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates.

Expands Medicaid coverage for everyone up to 150% of the FPL.

Provides 100% federal funding for the expansion until 2015, then lowers it to 91% thereafter.

No provisions for counter cyclical funding, but the House bill does provide $23.5 billion to continue federal funding for Medicaid to help states during the recession.

Medicaid reimbursement rates for primary care will increase to Medicare within three years.

Preserves existing Medicaid benefits for current and new enrollees.

Community Health Centers (CHCs)

Authorizes an increase in funding for CHCs to $8.3 billion per year by 2016, pursuant to the Access for All America Act (S.486 and H.R.1296). Language does not guarantee funding; only authorizes it to be allocated.

Adopts language from S.486 by authorizing up to $8.3 billion in CHC funding by 2016. Funding would increase gradually, from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $8.3 billion in 2016. Language does not guarantee funding; only authorizes it to be allocated.

Guarantees funding for health centers though a Public Health Investment Fund, which contains an additional $12 billion for Health Centers over the next five years.

Increases investment in National Health Service Corps to train more health care service providers.

National Health Care Program (Single Payer)

RESULTS has endorsed a National Health Program as our long-term goal for health reform (H.R.676 and S.703).

Does not include a national health care plan.

Senator Sanders introduced an amendment (2837) for consideration during the Senate debate on health reform. It replaces the current bill with S.703. A strong showing of support sets the stage for consideration of a national health plan in the future.

Does not include a national health care plan.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9) withdrew his amendment that would have replaced the provisions in the bill with those of H.R.676 and create a national health program.

Children’s Health

Children should receive a child-specific benefit package at least as good as current CHIP and Medicaid enrollees, whether covered by a government program or by insurance purchased through the Exchange.

Requires states to maintain current income eligibility levels for children in Medicaid and CHIP until 2019 but there is not additional funding allocated for CHIP beyond 2013.

Senator Casey will offer an amendment that will strengthen children’s health coverage by extending the CHIP program. RESULTS supports this amendment.

By increasing the eligibility for Medicaid to 150% FPL (see above), the House bill will move about 2.3 million children into Medicaid. But, the House repeals the CHIP program and requires enrollees in separate state CHIP programs with incomes above 150 percent of FPL to obtain coverage through the Exchange beginning in 2014.

For more details, see the Kaiser Foundation Side-by-Side Comparison of the bills.