This page has some tools and resources that will help you to organize and execute a range of creative and direct actions that target the public, corporations and members of Congress or federal agencies.
If you want to get plugged in to actions, click here to join the campaign.
You can also organize your own actions using some of the tools on this page! Just make sure to publicize your action, do social media, and submit your event on our action map so that others can see it and get involved. It is often helpful to create a Facebook event page, pass out flyers or send an email to promote your actions to a wide cross section of people. You can also reach out to groups already in your area who might be interested in National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). If you need help with your action contact us.
Businesses: Richard Master, the chair and CEO of MCS Industries and producer of the documentary “Fix It”, in partnership with the American Sustainable Business Council, launched Business Leaders Transforming Healthcare. If you know business owners who might be interested, send them to BLTH.org. You can also download this template and print business cards (one-sided or two-sided) to hand out to local businesses.
Download the template here: BLTH
Pick a Target:
What makes sense in your area for a target? Is your member of Congress supportive of National Improved Medicare for All or not? Are people in your community aware of National Improved Medicare for All or not? Is there a large private insurer or private facility that is unpopular in your area? Is there something in the news that is relevant to the struggle to win National Improved Medicare for All – maybe a hospital closing or workers losing health benefits?
The answers to these questions will help you to determine the appropriate target. Most of the time we are choosing actions that educate and inspire the public or gain media attention. Other times we are working to directly impact power holders like members of Congress, the Secretary of Health or the President.
Congress members are key because we need sufficient numbers of votes in the House and the Senate to pass National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). We may need to educate members about the legislation (HR 676 in the House), push them to introduce companion legislation (there is currently no Senate version of HR 676), get them to co-sponsor the legislation, ask them to recruit other members or to speak publicly about National Improved Medicare for All or to hold briefings or hearings on National Improved Medicare for All and ultimately to vote to get it out of the relevant committees and vote for it on the floor of the House or Senate.
The ways that we interact with members of Congress depend on their position, what we want them to do and what stage of the struggle we are in. Always remember that members of Congress have different goals than we do – they want to please voters and maintain their corporate donations while our goal is to win National Improved Medicare for All. At times our relationship will need to be adversarial in order to achieve our goal.
Call or meet your Senators and Reps: Calling often has a greater impact than emails. Handwritten letters are even more impactful. Consider holding an event where people write letters to your member of Congress or create a post card that people can fill out and send. Click here for instructions.
To call, you can call the Capitol switchboard at 202 224 3121 and ask for your member of Congress or you can look up your member’s direct number on their website. If you aren’t certain who your member is, use a locator like these: Click here for the House. Click here for the Senate.
You will usually speak with the receptionist. Try to get through to the Health Legislative Assistant if possible. If not, then leave a message with the receptionist and ask for the name of the health staffer. Let the staffer know why it is important that your member of Congress support National Improved Medicare for All. Offer yourself as a resource to the health staffer if you feel comfortable in that role. You can send them information about National Improved Medicare for All (don’t send too much or too often, be concise and link to studies or articles that might be helpful).
Set up a meeting: This can be done in the local district or the Washington DC office. Usually you will get a meeting with a staffer. If you are persistent, you will be able to meet with your member. Bring a few people with you who represent different relevant constituencies such as someone in a health profession, a representative from labor or the business community, a patient, someone from a faith community or community organization, etc. This will demonstrate broad public support. Be careful not to bring too many people. The offices are often small. Each person should plan ahead of time to speak for a minute or two about their concerns. Bring concise written materials too. You will find information on the Tools for Education page.
Are you ready to be a citizen lobbyist? Citizen lobbyists work to develop a relationship with their member of Congress’ health staff and to serve as a resource for them if they have questions about NIMA. If you sign up, each week you will receive an email on a specific topic related to NIMA that you can send to the staff. HOPE will provide resources if you are asked questions that you can’t answer. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being a citizen lobbyist.
Use the media to reach your member: Members of Congress watch the local newspapers. Visit the Tools for Media page to learn how to submit a letter to the editor. You can also post on your members Facebook page or tweet at them.
Hold a Healthcare Truth Hearing: Alternatively, you can organize a public event such as a speak out or town hall and invite your member of Congress. You will need to work through their scheduler for this. If they give you the run around, you can still organize the event and place a chair with their name on it to show their absence.
Bird-dogging: Show up at public events that your Senators and Representatives will be attending in your district, state, or in D.C. Know the issue and ask them tough questions to get them and the media thinking, something they are not accustomed to doing. Push them for an answer. If they don’t respond, ask again. Hound them over and over, everywhere they go. Record the response and let everyone know! For more on bird-dogging see these tips.
Rallies, protests, direct action: Campaigns require planned escalation in tactics. If letters, call-ins, public events and bird-dogging are not sufficient, then you will need to increase the pressure. Hold a rally outside your member’s office or a protest. Rallies are events where speakers talk about the issues and rally people to take action. Protests usually have a tougher tone – people protest a member for doing something harmful or for failing to do something positive. There can also be speakers at a protest but the focus will be on the representative’s stance on the issue and will have a demand (Representative ____ must endorse HR 676!). You might want to picket outside your member’s local office.
If these don’t work, consider creative nonviolent direct action such as a sit-in, die-in, a blockade, etc.
Here are a few creative ideas:
Tape notes to your member’s office door and windows.
Hold a vigil at your member of Congress’s house.
March for National Improved Medicare for All
“Drop in and hangout” in your member’s office for an extended period of time.
Educate the Public:
There are many ways to reach the public with your message about National Improved Medicare for All and the HOPE campaign.
Hold a teach-in at a local gathering spot, library, church or community organization. Invite a speaker. Physicians for a National Health Program has a speakers bureau. Click here for more information.
Show a film and follow that with a discussion. Here are some recommended movies:
Make sure that you have a sign-in sheet for people who attend so that you can keep in touch with them for future meetings and events. Download a sign-in sheet here:
Hold a post card and letter writing event. Click here for simple instructions for reaching your members of Congress through snail mail.
Leafleting is a great way to reach a lot of people in a short period of time. Attend events where people are gathered such as a farmer’s market or stand outside a highly-trafficked area such as a train station and hand out informative leaflets. Here is a sample leaflet:
Visibility actions are another way to reach a lot of people. Find a highway overpass that has a sidewalk and hold a deer net banner (click here for simple instructions to make one) during a high traffic time. Deer net banners are safer than hanging a banner over the edge, Or find a safe median and hold signs there or a large banner during a high traffic time. Keep your message simple so that drivers can read it.
Pressure Healthcare Corporations:
Perhaps there is a pharmaceutical corporation in your area that is price-gouging or stopping production of a necessary medication. Perhaps a local private insurance corporation is raising its rates, dropping coverage or preventing a patient from having access to necessary care. These are opportunities to raise awareness that health care shouldn’t be treated as a commodity. Health care is a public good,
Here are some ideas for creative direct action. Remember to consider who your target is – are you trying to reach the broader public with your message or trying to impact the corporation? Make sure your messaging and tactics serve your goals.
Direct Action Resources:
See Backbone Campaign’s toolkit for light projections, banner hangs, and more creative action ideas.
See Beautiful Trouble for other creative action/strategy ideas.
SOA Watch Handbook for NonViolent Direct Action
Ferguson Action Resources