Republicans are making one last big push to try and repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare), a goal they thought they could achieve once they had a majority in Congress along with a Republican president, but is proving to be a much more difficult task. That's largely due to the fact that so many Americans don't actually want the ACA to be repealed, as it has helped millions with health care, paired with the unpopularity of Republicans' presented plans. But that citizen dissatisfaction means nothing unless you actually tell your representative about it, and a great way to do that is with a quick phone call. To help you out, I'm giving you a script for calling your representative about the ACA and health care proposals.
Calling your representative is a really easy thing to do. And if you think it's useless, it's really not. There's a reason why politicians are always telling you to call them up if you feel a certain way about something. Those calls are counted up and can be used to influence your representative's vote on an issue. If your senator knows a ton of people won't be happy with her if she votes for a bill, it may sway her to vote the way the people want.
Before you call your representative, you should know what you're calling about, so let's go over what's happening.
Right now, Republicans are making a push to repeal Obamacare with the so-called Graham-Cassidy amendment. That bill was presented by -- you'll never guess -- Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy. The Graham-Cassidy bill takes away Obamacare requirements to let states "create their own health care systems." It would eliminate funding, including on Medicaid, and brings back pre-existing conditions, which means insurance companies can charge people more if they have certain conditions.
A lot of people in the medical community are not happy about it. The American Medical Association said in a letter,
We believe the Graham-Cassidy Amendment would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care.
Now, let's get to actually calling your representative.
There are two ways for you to literally call your senator (remember, this vote is happening in the Senate). The first way is to find the number of your senator's office. This is important: Do not call a senator for a state that's not the one you live in. They only count calls from real constituents, and all you'll be doing is hogging the line from someone who could actually be counted. To call your senator, you first have to know who your senator is. To figure that out, just go to the Senate's website and scroll to your state (note: you have two senators). You can find their contact information there or through this part of the Senate site.
The second way is much easier. Just call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and say you want to talk to your senator. The switchboard will then connect you to the right office.
You'll be talking to a legislative assistant. Try to be calm with them -- they're just people who have to answer these calls all day and they don't have anything in particular to do with why policies are the way that they are. Keep the conversation simple. Here is a script you can use:
Hello, I'm [name], and I'm a constituent of Senator [name]. I'm calling to ask her/him to vote against the Graham-Cassidy Amendment. This bill will take away vital health coverage from people who need it most, and we don't even know the extent of it because the Congressional Budget Office hasn't reviewed it yet. I will be watching the senator's vote on this bill, and it will influence my vote in coming years.
That's just a basic script, and you can remix it however you want -- add more facts from your own research, add a personal story, or thank them for opposing it if the assistant says the senator plans to vote against it. They might also ask for your zip code or other identifying factors so they know you're a real constituent.
For the most part, senators are expected to vote along party lines on this bill, but there are some shaky members in the Republican party who could stop it from happening -- namely, Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), John McCain (Arizona), and Susan Collins (Maine). But even if you're in a Democratic state, these calls still matter as they indicate that the senator should continue voting that way. We all have a role to play.