Tips for writing to your Senators and Representatives and Sample letters
1. The Senator or Representative is much more responsive to constituents, rather than a general member of the public: tell them you are their constituent and even better, give your USA voting address. 2. If you voted or campaigned for them in the last election, be sure to mention that. 3. If you are a member of Democrats Abroad, mention it: it helps to raise our profile.
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Some tips for writing to your Senator or Representative
1. The Senator or Representative is much more responsive to constituents, rather than a general member of the public: tell them you are their constituent and even better, give your USA voting address.
2. If you voted or campaigned for them in the last election, be sure to mention that.
3. If you are a member of Democrats Abroad, mention it: it helps to raise our profile.
4. Try to do some research on their views and votes. The basic format for Senators' websites is http://lastname.senate.gov and for House of Representatives http://lastname.house.gov. Use Project Vote Smart or Govtrack.us to find and track your representatives' record.
5. Try to focus and keep it brief: make clear your major concerns, the issues you see as most important and the action(s) you would like them to take.
6. Include a personal, individual element: draw upon your own experience or your own story to reinforce the points you make.
7. Keep focused on the positive: a positive message can often have a greater impact.
Some Sample letters
Senator Dianne Feinstein
111 Santa Monica BlvdSuite 915
Los Angeles, California USA 90024
Dear Senator Feinstein, September 13, 2009
Healthcare: The President’s Plan
I am a constituent of yours, and I voted for you last time. My voting address is: .....
Your position on healthcare seems fairly clear from your website. There are 2 points that I would like you to consider and do more to support.
The first is cost. I believe the President has made it clear that healthcare reform will be neutral. There will be gainers and losers short term, but we all win long term. If we do nothing, healthcare costs will rise from a TAX of 16% of our GDP to what? – 25-30%.
Please could you do more to work with the President to make the plan neutral and to communicate this to Californians.
The second point is the public option, which you seem to feel is not justified. Again, the President has made it clear about the costs and limitations of this.
As important is the fact that the public option – able to negotiate the best service for the least cost – may be the ONLY effective way of significantly reducing healthcare costs.
Living in the UK, my family and I have long experience of receiving care when we need it – often from the very top professionals – with no concern about cost. And it improves all the time.
Also, through private health insurance (provided by my employers) I know that the private healthcare in the UK is like the best hotels – with no worry about delays, or quibbles about treatment. And the only reason it is so good is because the public option in the UK is so good.
Please support the President's Plan. Please support the public option.
Your UK address
emailed to Senator Feinstein 21.8.09 (her website had not 1 word about healthcare reform):
Dear Senator Feinstein,
I vote from LA county but live in the UK. The NHS is one example of a nation caring for its citizens in a very economical way - about half the cost of the US system. It's not perfect and needs to change, continually. But it is so far ahead of the US system. As indeed are the systems in Canada, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, and most of the OECD countries.
You've been in the Senate long enough to have a fairly good idea of what the basics should be of a system in the US. It seems however that you have done nothing and intend to do nothing to support healthcare reform.
Please tell me it isn't so.
My UK Address.
PS: About time your newsletter dealt with this issue.
Representative Luis Gutierrez
2202 W. North Avenue
Chicago, Il 30647
Dear Representative Gutierrez,
I am writing with regard to healthcare reform. I am writing to request that you do all that is necessary to ensure universal healthcare that involves access by all residents of the US to subsidized and regulated health insurance and to the availability of a strong public option.
I am a United States citizen living abroad in the United Kingdom. I vote in the Fourth Congressional District of Illinois based upon my last residence in the United States, listed on this form. I can tell you that right-wing commentators and politicians have engaged in outright lies about universal healthcare in general and the British National Health Service in particular. The experience of such countries as the UK, France, Germany, Canada, and Japan all show that there are many ways to achieve universal healthcare. They show that it is possible to deliver better outcomes while spending far less per capita on healthcare than the United States. To argue otherwise is to ignore a substantial body of data about life expectancy, healthcare expenditure, and deaths that could have been prevented by simple medical care.
Even though it is not perfect, the NHS works extremely well in the UK. Every citizen and permanent resident is covered and care is free at the point of need. Bankruptcies due to medical bills are unheard of. I do not advocate that the US adopt the British system because implementation would be far too difficult, but other models such as Germany show that the US could adopt major reforms to its current fragmented system to have universal care based upon competing insurance plans.
For a health insurance reform to work, every person must have access to appropriately regulated and subsidized insurance. Regulations must ensure that all insurance plans provide comprehensive benefits and do not cherry pick customers based upon age or pre-existing conditions. Each person must be covered whether employed or not and adequate subsidies must be made available to ensure that each person can afford insurance. Finally, every person must be required to have health insurance in order to ensure that people contribute what they can both when they are low-risk and when they are high-risk patients.
I would like to emphasize that although universal health insurance is possible without a public insurance option, the inclusion of a public option is desirable in order to promote efficiency and leave the possibility for future reforms. A public plan would be able to use such efficiencies as economies of scale and large bargaining power to force competing private and non-profit plans to drive down costs. Just as importantly, if the advantages of the public plan caused the American public to overwhelmingly choose it, then it could open the door to a possible movement toward a single-payer system.
The address that I have entered is my voting address based upon my last residence, not my current mailing address. I request that you please respond to my concerns and definitively state your position on healthcare reform by writing to LONDON address or by e-mailing EMAIL ADDRESS
3 November, 2009
The Honorable Senator Frank Lautenberg
United States Senate
Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Lautenberg,:
It is with great pleasure that I write this letter to you as I support your continued position on the public option. I am an American citizen who has been living in the United Kingdom since 1993. I was working for a pharmaceutical concern in New Jersey where I last voted while resident in the United States; therefore I continue to vote in federal elections inNew Jersey.
I would like to point out that I come from a family that includes many healthcare professionals. I have two uncles who are retired physicians. My father is a retired dentist, having founded a dental practice in Kansas City, MO where I grew up which, at its height, had 10 chairs and 7 dentists, including my sister, a pediatric dentist and my brother, a dentist as well. As a result of the family connections, I also know many physicians and dentists socially, GPs and specialists, and have listened to their professional concerns. My roommate from university and long time childhood friend is now a board certified ENT specialist in Atlanta.
They are overwhelmingly in favor of what is called in the US “the public option.” Both my sister and father have expressed concern over the time and effort the practice spends in trying to determine whether patients who present themselves are capable of paying for the service and care required. When the care is performed and the patient defaults, this a charge that the dentist/practice must absorb. This does not include just the time spent by the attending dentist but also the unit costs of the additional attending personnel, supplies and lab fees.
I mention this example, as I am aware of the arguments against universal healthcare, one being that these expensively educated/trained physicians and dentists will suffer as a result. This is far from the truth. At the moment they are suffering now. I have a first cousin who is a Harvard Med educated physician. In addition to receiving funds from his wider family, he still needed to go into debt to pay for his education at Harvard. His first choice after graduation, therefore, was to work for an HMO. He said that he hated the targets set by the HMO in terms of the limits on time allocated to a patient visit; the lack of discretion left to him to prescribe medicine and so on. Still though, 10 years after graduation, even between himself and his Harvard Law educated wife due to the mountain of student loans they both incurred, they were not able to scrape together adequate funds for him to start his own practice which he very much wanted to do. Instead, he went where the money is and now works as a consultant with one of the Big 5 advising HMOs on how to do less while charging patients more money.
I am still surprised how the average American views “the public option” or “universal healthcare” as “socialized medicine” when this is exactly what the HMOs offer to the American public once their fees are taken off them. At the moment in the United States, people are receiving their healthcare determined by accountants, not by appropriately educated physicians and dentists who are more interested in seeing a healthy individual as opposed to a healthy bottom line for shareholders.
Americans abroad, whether they hold dual citizenship or continue to be Americans only, have enjoyed the benefits of universal healthcare in various countries. Given the rise of self-employed individuals both in the United States and in the EU, for example, the ability to have access to affordable healthcare certainly helps to contain an individual’s personal budget. I think Members of Congress should seriously contemplate this trend in the job market –this could ultimately be the engine of economic growth --and seek to decouple the accessibility of adequate and affordable healthcare from one’s employment status (ie the difference between being employed and self-employed).
We, Americans abroad, are very concerned about the outcome of this vote as we continue to have relatives and close friends in the United States (and who will benefit from both sides of the equation – provider and consumer) and would like to have the option to return to the country whose values, freedoms and progressivity have informed our values and consciousness.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is intended for educational use and offered as a public service. Any views expressed should not be understood as representing or reflecting the views of Democrats Abroad UK, Democrats Abroad or the Democratic Party of the United States. Links to other organizations or publications imply neither endorsement of their policies nor any association with the Democratic Party or Democrats Abroad - UK.
Specific Disclaimer: These letters reflect the personal viewpoint of the authors and do not represent any official or unofficial views of DAUK or the Policy Action Network.