Legislative advocacy is a powerful tool that allows people to influence how laws and policies in our country are created and implemented. As a member of the Social Health Network (SHN), you can choose from different health leadership roles that speak to you the most. The 4 main roles include:
- Community awareness and education
- Legislative advocacy
- Digital creator
- Healthcare collaborator
If legislative advocacy is where you shine, you’re in the right place! Continue reading to take a deeper dive into what makes legislative advocacy so crucial. You’ll also learn about how you can start taking action today.
What is legislative advocacy?
Legislative advocacy is when people try to persuade the government to make or change laws and policies that they believe will make things better for themselves and others. It’s about speaking up to influence the rules that affect our lives. Legislative advocacy can take place at the local, state, or federal level.
Why is legislative advocacy important?
Influencing public policy is a necessary and effective way of impacting your health community. As a Health Leader, sharing your views and health journey can impact public policy in many ways.
Advocacy seeks to ensure that people can:
- Have their views and wishes genuinely considered when decisions are being made about their lives
- Defend and safeguard their rights
- Have their voice heard on issues that are important to them
By working with legislation, you have the power to make big changes in your community. Whether that’s passing a law, making a personal connection with a representative, or telling your story on a public platform.
Different forms of legislative advocacy
There are many forms that legislative advocacy can take. It could mean:
Making phone calls to elected officials
Calling your legislators via phone can be a powerful way to start the conversation. Feel free to leave a voicemail or follow up with additional phone calls.
Writing letters and emails to elected officials about your cause
Though not always the most effective form of legislative advocacy, letters and emails can be leveraged by those who may have limited time. Letters are also a more personal way to get your legislators’ attention and can be very effective if large groups of people begin mailing them in.
In-person visits to legislators
Personal visits may be the strongest form of legislative advocacy if you are willing and able to travel. It takes more time, travel, and energy, so that is something to consider. But it can be a very powerful way to get your legislators’ attention.
Here are some other forms of legislative advocacy:
- Joining a coalition to join forces with other passionate people
- Joining in a rally to voice your concerns about a particular issue
- Using social media to draw attention to an important issue
- Reaching out to journalists or reporters to increase public awareness about an issue
Whatever form it takes, legislative advocacy is a way for Health Leaders to translate their community concerns into policies and laws.
Ways Health Leaders can get involved
If you’re interested in taking action, here are some ways to get involved:
- Stay well-informed about the issues you’re passionate about. Research healthcare policies and understand how they affect people. Keep up with current events and developments in the healthcare sector.
- Apply for an advocacy scholarship that will allow you to fly to Capitol Hill to take part in your condition’s awareness day lobbying.
- Offer to visit different support groups to discuss legislative advocacy and how important it is to show up for events and awareness days.
- Reach out to your local, state, and federal representatives. Attend town hall meetings, make phone calls, send emails or letters, and request meetings to discuss healthcare issues that are important to you.
- Join patient advocacy organizations that focus on specific medical conditions or broader healthcare issues. Joining these groups can provide a platform for your voice and connect you with like-minded advocates.
If you’re unable to locate a legislator’s address or phone number, the Clerk of the House maintains the addresses and phone numbers of all House members and Committees. You can also call (202) 224-3121 for the US House switchboard operator.
To learn more about the opportunities legislative advocacy can provide, we’d like to introduce you to Health Leader Monique Gore-Massy.
Make a difference
Legislative advocacy is a powerful means of making a positive impact on healthcare policy. By understanding the various forms of advocacy, getting involved as a patient advocate, and effectively crafting your personal health story, you can contribute to the change you wish to see in the healthcare system.
Remember that your voice matters, and by sharing your experiences and insights, you can help shape a brighter future for healthcare in your community and beyond.