In May, Congress passed the AHCA; the bill that will, if passed in anything close to the form in which Congress passed it, leave millions of Americans without affordable healthcare so as to give the richest of Americans a break on their taxes. The bill is currently being argued out by the Senate – who won’t tell anyone what changes they’re making or what they’re currently planning to vote into law. All we know is that they’re almost certainly going to be holding this vote within the next few weeks. (The planned timeline has the Senators holding the vote by June 30th, less than a fortnight away.) If the bill goes through at that point, Americans could end up stuck with a bill that could have a disastrous impact on the most vulnerable of their people – without even the chance to know in advance what’s in it.
However, the bill has not gone through yet, and that means you still have just enough time to fight it.
By contacting your Senators and putting pressure on them. They need to hear the strength of feeling on this one, and they need to know that if they support the AHCA they’re going to be very, very unpopular with a lot of Americans.
And they need to hear this not just via social media or e-mails, but via people – lots of people – phoning their offices directly. Because, when your switchboard is going crazy with calls, that’s a lot harder to ignore than e-mail.
If you can show up in person, better yet. If you can show up with others for a protest or sit-in (after reading the links below on how to do this effectively), even better! But if you can’t do those things – still, if you possibly can, call. And ask everyone you know to call too. Because it does make a difference.
But my Senator is a Democrat and is already against the AHCA!
Great! Phone them! If they hear how strongly their constituents feel on the matter, that’s really helpful ammunition that they can use when debating the GOP on the subject.
Also, there are specific things that senators who object to the AHCA can do to throw a spanner in the works of and make it harder for this act to go through – see below.
But my Senator is a jerk who would never listen to a thing I say against the AHCA!
Boo! Phone them! That jerk of a Senator is going to want to announce that his constituents are obviously happy with the AHCA, and he would love to be in a position where he can say that no-one’s calling him to object to it. If he is getting those calls, it’s a lot harder for him to say that (however much of a jerk he is, he still probably wants to avoid being in a position where constituents of his know damn well he’s a liar and can call him out on it). You may not change his position – but at least you’ve weakened it.
But what should I say when I call?
So glad you asked! Here are some helpful links I found:
Indivisible: the Stop Trumpcare in June action plan. An invaluable guide to what to ask for and how to go about it. Covers not just phone calls but also letters to your local paper and sit-ins. This is also the link that specifies what you can usefully ask of a Democrat senator in terms of practical opposition to the AHCA. Indivisible have also given sample scripts for Republican and Democrat senators.
And Bustle highlight an important point: If you have a personal story of how the AHCA would impact you, include that. The staffers answering the phone are human beings. It’s pretty hard to remain unmoved when you’re hearing stories like ‘My child needs lifesaving treatment for [chronic illness] and, under the AHCA, I won’t be able to keep affording that.’ Of course, most stories won’t be quite that dramatic; but still make them heard. Don’t be overdramatic, but do let the staffer you speak to know. (And anyone else you can. People need to hear how the AHCA will impact actual people they know.)
To summarise the important points:
- Be prepared to give your address/zip code first off (they will want to check you’re actually a constituent; stick to calling your elected representatives)
- Once you’ve done that, ask to speak to the staffer in charge of health (there will be a specific one).
- Be polite but firm.
- Ask for your senator’s position on the AHCA.
- Be specific in your requests. (See the Indivisible links above for more useful details on this, but, in summary: If they’re against it, let them know you don’t find that acceptable because X, and you need them to support it. If they’re unsure or trying to dodge the question, same thing. If they’re for it, ask them to work actively to slow the bill down as much as possible, in the ways given in the ‘Democrat senator’ link above.)
- Let them know any ways in which the bill would personally impact you. If it wouldn’t, give a one-sentence summary of your general concerns (‘This bill would leave millions without affordable healthcare’, for example).
Finally, if you really can’t phone – and I know there are good reasons why not everyone can – is there anything else you can do? Letters and e-mails may carry less weight than phone calls, but they still count for something, and the more communications representatives get by whatever means, the more they know the strength of feeling on the matter. Spreading the word to other people – even if it’s just sharing the information on your Facebook page – means more people potentially willing to join the list of those calling and taking part in other actions.
Good luck to all.