If you are plugged into ASH member communications such as NewsLink or the “Headlines From Washington” column in The Hematologist, you know that your U.S. colleagues are always keeping busy on the advocacy front. For years ASH has been at the foreground of influencing legislators and leaders in the administration to make good decisions on critical issues affecting hematology — from National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, to oral chemotherapy parity, to sickle cell disease education and care.
Members of the Committee on Government Affairs, Committee on Practice, the Grassroots Network, and the Advocacy Leadership Institute play an important role in making sure hematology researchers, clinicians, and patients are seen and heard on these and numerous other local and nationwide concerns. But there are even more ways to amplify your voice and have an impact on the issues that you care about. The online Advocacy Toolkit (www.hematology.org/advocacy/toolkit) was created as a resource to help members communicate with their elected officials. Here is a summary of what the toolkit provides and how you can get started with your advocacy efforts:
Emailing, Calling, and Tweeting to Congress. New issues affecting hematology are emerging all the time and are in a state of near-constant flux. Writing or calling your elected officials, however, continues to be a mainstay for reaching the people in power. Checking ASH Advocacy Alerts (www.hematology.org/advocacy) is both a great way to stay abreast of the Society’s priority issues and also a tool for sending pre-populated email messages to elected representatives. The Advocacy Toolkit also has tips and guidance for using Twitter to contact your reps, as well as a simple script for brief and effective phone calls to legislators.
Meeting With Your Elected Officials. Face-to-face meetings are often perhaps the best way to give voice to your ideas and interests, and the ASH Government Relations and Practice Department is here to help. Simply email ASH staff with information on when you will be in Washington, DC, and available to meet with your member of Congress. (You can also meet in state or district offices.) ASH staff will help you schedule your appointment, prepare you with key facts and talking points, and help with any needed follow-up.
Advocacy Tools. For any successful advocacy endeavor, information is the coin of the realm. To this end, ASH provides an array of straightforward tools including upto-date fact sheets to leave with your elected representatives, infographics to guide and inform your conversations, talking points on specific issues such as drug parity and NIH funding, shareable videos, and even advice for drafting and submitting your own articles to local news outlets.
Changing the landscape of critical health care issues is a huge undertaking, but you needn’t feel helpless or alone! Add the Advocacy Toolkit to your favorite websites, and attend the ASH Grassroots Network Lunch this year in Orlando on Saturday, December 7, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Orlando (Regency Ballroom TU – map it) to learn how you can keep yourself well-equipped for the advocacy challenges ahead.