Close Out Summer With Congress Grassroots advocacy organizers have always maintained that a single person can affect congressional legislation, and now research proves them right. A new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Management Foundation [PDF] verifies that constituent involvement is the number-one influencing factor in legislator decision-making. In fact, the top six factors affecting how ... Grassroots 101
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Grassroots 101  |   September 01, 2011
Close Out Summer With Congress
Author Notes
  • Kate Fry, director of political advocacy, can be reached at kfry@asha.org.
    Kate Fry, director of political advocacy, can be reached at kfry@asha.org.×
Article Information
Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Grassroots 101
Grassroots 101   |   September 01, 2011
Close Out Summer With Congress
The ASHA Leader, September 2011, Vol. 16, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.GR.16092011.44
The ASHA Leader, September 2011, Vol. 16, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.GR.16092011.44
Grassroots advocacy organizers have always maintained that a single person can affect congressional legislation, and now research proves them right. A new study by the nonpartisan Congressional Management Foundation [PDF] verifies that constituent involvement is the number-one influencing factor in legislator decision-making. In fact, the top six factors affecting how a member of Congress arrives at any given decision involve constituent input.
Being an advocate involves nothing more than telling a story that demonstrates through actual examples of the impact of a public policy decision on you, your profession, your clients, and/or your community. You are the only one who can provide this information; choose to have your voice heard.
With both chambers of the U.S. Congress adjourned for a month-long August recess, now is the time to contact your legislators about public policy issues important to audiology and speech-language pathology. Through ASHA’s recently launched “Speak Out, Be Heard” federal advocacy program, it is easier than ever to advocate for the professions.
Opportunities for Engagement
Whether you have three minutes, a few hours, or an hour every month, there are ASHA advocacy initiatives that need your participation.
Three Minutes
Join the ASHA Federal Advocacy Network and become a FAN! Through ASHA’s online Take Action Center, you can instantly contact your policymakers on key legislation. The Take Action Center does the work in identifying your legislators and providing sample letters all you have to do is register and hit the “send” button!
For added impact, you can personalize the letter with information about your workplace and the effect of the particular issue on you and the clients you serve. Even a small change to the letter makes a big impact.
A Few Hours
Face-to-face meetings are a valuable contribution to the future of the professions (see article on p. 44). Policymakers can promote and protect your interests only when they know what matters to you.
A trip to Capitol Hill isn’t always feasible, but elected officials have multiple offices in their home states and districts and are always willing to meet with constituents. Call the official’s office and ask to schedule a meeting with the representative or with a staff member. If you don’t feel comfortable going it alone, organize the meeting with a group of your colleagues.
Many members of Congress also host town hall meetings, either in person or by videoconference or telephone. Consider attending and asking a question. Policymakers notice when constituents take time from their schedules to attend and, in return, take the time to consider and learn about your concerns. Call your congressional office for a full list of scheduled meetings.
An Hour Every Month
Consider becoming an ASHA grassroots captain. ASHA is looking for captains from every congressional district and state to represent members on identified public policy issues. Expertise in policymaking is not a requirement just the willingness to build a relationship with your senator or representative. Perhaps you and your representative share an office location, have children on the same soccer team, or went to the same school ASHA needs your help! Or you can start building a relationship with a simple introduction.
On the Agenda
Several legislative issues are high on the agenda of issues important to speech-language pathology and audiology:
  • Hearing Aid Tax Credit Bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1479/S. 905) that would allow an income tax credit for the purchase of hearing aids has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate.

  • Medicare Therapy Caps Without congressional action, the current moratorium on the Medicare therapy caps will expire at the end of this year. Ensure Medicare beneficiary access to medically necessary services by requesting that your policymakers co-sponsor the Medicare Access to Rehabilitation Services Act (H.R. 1546/S.829).

  • Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Education committees in both chambers of Congress are developing and debating reauthorization of the driving piece of education policy. Are you frustrated by funding issues, participation in literacy programs, or general classification status of audiologists and SLPs? This is your chance to provide input.

Information on ASHA’s “Speak Out, Be Heard” program and resources for participation in all of ASHA’s advocacy efforts are available at ASHA’s advocacy web page.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
September 2011
Volume 16, Issue 9