August 27, 2008

Contact Your Legislators Now and Advocate for Public Health

By Anonymous

Free state fact sheets available online WITH presidential and congressional elections just around the corner, APHA is calling on members and Affiliates to keep critical public health issues at the forefront of discussions. And like previous years, APHAs Public Health Action - or PHACT - campaign is providing the advocacy tools to do just that.

As members of Congress return to their home districts during the August congressional recess, APHA is urging every one of its members to advocate on behalf of public health. Whether in person, by phone, by letter or e-mail, hearing from local constituents can have a major impact on the success of public health legislative priorities, said Don Hoppert, APHAs director of government affairs.

"Because public health's breadth is so wide and our workers are so diverse, a united voice calling for public health support could reap enormous rewards," Hoppert said. "Despite its presence on Capitol Hill, APHA could never have the same advocacy effect as thousands of individual public health workers writing letters, sending e-mails and meeting with leaders."

In addition to contacting members of Congress about specific legislation, APHA members are also urged to make public health an election issue. With presidential, congressional, state and local candidates campaigning for votes, make sure they know that public health is important, Hoppert said. As part of APHA's Public Health Action campaign, the Association is offering a wealth of resources, tips and guidelines.

Visit APHA's PHACT Web site for free public health fact sheets for every state, the top 10 rules of advocacy, the "dos and don'ts" of meeting face-to-face with a legislator, tips on speaking at a town or public meeting, sample letters to the editor, and questions to ask candidates running for office. The advocacy site also lets members download APHAs most recent annual congressional voting record, in which legislators are scored on their support of selected public health votes, as well as fact sheets on APHA priorities, such as public health funding, mental health parity, access to care and climate change. Members can also visit APHA's advocacy site to find out more about their elected officials, locate an upcoming town hall meeting in their area and get information on candidatesrunning for office.

And don't get discouraged if you are unable to meet directly with an elected official, Hoppert noted. If she or he is unavailable, ask to meet or talk with someone on staff, drop off a packet of public health materials, write an e-mail or send a letter to your local newspaper touting the life-saving benefits of supporting public health, he said.

"This is a critical time to speak up for public health," Hoppert said.

After taking part in the action campaign, APHA wants to hear about your experiences. Visit the PHACT Web site at www. advocacy/tips/ advocacyactioncampaign. htm to complete a short follow-up survey on your advocacy outreach.

For more information on the campaign, e-mail [email protected] or call 202-777-2514.

"Because public health's breadth is so wide and our workers are so diverse, a united voice calling for public health support could reap enormous rewards... This is a critical time to speak up for public health. "

- Don Hoppert

Copyright American Public Health Association Aug 2008

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