Talking to Your Legislator/Candidate in the Community

HCAO Guide: Meeting in Local Community with Your Legislator or Legislative Candidate on Health Care Financing

Meeting Goals

  • Build a relationship with legislator or candidate.
  • Assess their view on health care financing and, if possible, single payer.
  • Let them know your position on health care finance reform/single payer.

Arrange the Meeting

  • As you proceed, remember these are citizen legislators and you are a citizen.
  • Find your legislator/legislative candidates and contact info:
  • Contact the legislator/candidate to find availability in district.
  • Identify yourself as a constituent concerned about health care and/or public health policies. 
  • Request and schedule appointment to meet at office or agreed on community location.
  • Ask how much time is available. Request 30-45 minutes.
  • Contact legislation@hcao.org for help.

Develop Meeting Plan

Have the Conversation

  • Introduction Phase
    • Briefly introduce yourself and others attending.
    • Verify how much time is available.
    • Explain the purpose of your meeting: as a constituent you are concerned about how an insurance based health care system is costly and creates access problems that impact the ability of people to get the care they need when they need it.
    • During the meeting, look for personal connections or common interests.
    • Advise that you are taking notes, and that you have materials to leave with them.
    • Briefly tell your personal story with short review of your written summary.
  • Listening Phase
    • Let the legislator/candidate talk and tell own personal stories about health care. (Be aware of rambling conversation)
    • Acknowledge that these stories are so true and frequent that we need to look at the bigger picture
    • Ask questions rather than making statements.
    • Listen to the legislator's/candidate's perspective on the health care system. For example, “I/we have come to get your perspective on the current health care system. What do you think is working, and what is not?”
    • What are the person's thoughts about costs for health care?
    • What paths do they foresee in containing costs while giving patients the care needed?
    • How do they view preventive care and public health in this area?
    • Is the person aware of the Rand Study and/or the Legislative Universal Access to Healthcare Workgroup? If aware of the Study Bill or Workgroup, what thoughts do they have about the Study or Workgroup and plan for evaluating financing?
    • If conversation takes you there, what do they think about a Single Payer System? (Facts and statistics may not be as important at this point as building relationship and understanding how the legislator/candidate thinks.)
  • End Phase
    • Offer materials you brought.
    • Let them know that you believe that Single Payer is the right way to go.
    • If they are inclined to support Single Payer, ask how they see this coming about in Oregon. (Legislation, Legislative Referral to voters, or Ballot Initiative.)
    • What role would they play in the legislature to help achieve this?
    • Ask if there are any questions.  If you do not know the answer, say so and offer to find the answer and get back to them.
    • Thank them for the meeting.

After the Meeting

  • Write a hand written thank you note signed by all at the meeting
  • Keep a record of what was said at the meeting, especially noting any commitments the legislator/candidate made in the meeting
  • Report your meeting findings to HCAO
  • If there are requests for more information, make sure to follow up
  • Contact legislation@hcao.org for help