Planning A Healthcare Truth Hearing

Here are some of the steps for the Organizing Committee:

  1. Set a date; Check Congressional home district work weeks to see if your Member of Congress can attend. Nail it down with his/her scheduler in the office.  Hold the hearing even if he or she cannot attend.
  2. Find a place; a church, a union, a library, a university, the park, wherever people can gather.
  3. Create a representative steering committee or coordinating committee. Gather a diverse group of organizations. The committee, made up of people from the organizations, should meet often and move things along. As you move through this process, the Coordinating Committee will need to find volunteers to take on many of the various tasks and follow through with them. Make sure volunteers report back regularly. Be sure to hold a meeting of all of those volunteers a few days before the event to be sure everything is covered. Having a lot of brains and hands involved makes it more likely you will remember everything and the democratic process prevails;
  4. Press. Everyone should talk to any press contacts they have about the scheduling of this hearing.  Make a list of everybody’s press ideas. Ask the media to report about it as it is developing in a truly democratic fashion.
  5. Get Co-sponsors Ask a lot of organizations to sign on as co-sponsors of this event. Go speak at their meetings. Ask all of the people in your coalition to sign on their organizations and to think of others whom they can call or speak to.
  6. Stationery Make up some stationery with the list of co-sponsors and the names of the coordinators. It should mention your group as the initiating co-sponsor and should include all of your organizations and some who just want their name on it. Sponsors can be asked to do any of these four things. A.lend their name, B. plan to bring testimony, C. come to the event, and 4. give some money to the effort. Many groups will give you free coverage, mention the event in their publication, provide free space, get their regional or judicatorial bodies to sign on, leaflet their events or provide food or coffee for the hearing. Mainly you want them to get involved in the coalition for the long haul and to bring volunteers into this movement.
  7. Examples View examples of letters to co-sponsors, letters to members of Congress, and other documents that might save you some time.
  8. Congress As soon as you have a good representation of co-sponsors, start sending out requests to attend to your members of Congress. Be sure to include your Senators as well as your House Members. Put the co-sponsors’ names on the back of the letterhead or as an additional page so the members of Congress can see that a lot of their constituents are involved.
  9. Everyone in your coalition should begin to call, fax, email and talk personally to their members of Congress urging them to come to the TRUTH HEARING. Congress members seem to need to hear from a lot of people in their district over and over again before they say “yes.”   Talk to their healthcare aides as well as their scheduling staff. Congress Members are scheduled to be working in their districts one week each month. Try inviting them to a hearing during their “Work Week” at home each month.
  10. Publicity/Media Create flyers and get them out as broadly as possible. Ask people to distribute them everywhere. Send them to all of your volunteers, their organizations, the co-sponsors, the local public television station, the public radio station, and to every event scheduled in your community. When possible some of the volunteers should go to those events and ask for time to make an announcement about the hearing. Post on social media and create an event page on Facebook (if you want us to create the event on the HOPE page, we will do that).
  11. Invite the media. Put out a media alert to all local media about a week in advance. Then put a notice on the day book for the media the day before the event. Call any media you know in advance and get them to interview some of the people who will testify or the members of Congress, people who are desperate for healthcare, or members of your committee.;
  12. Designate Jobs
    Plan for the day of the event. Everyone in your group should make suggestions about testimony, but designate someone to receive emails and phone calls and schedule all of the testimonies.  There are hundreds of stories. Make provisions for rest space, child care and, of course be sure you have transportation support and accessibility for all;
  13. Testimonies Try to have a wide variety of testimonies from all kinds of people in business and labor, lawyers re: malpractice tort claims, CEO’s of hospitals, people struggling with Medicaid and with disability issues, people who’ve been denied health care in all kinds of situations, people whose loved ones have died for lack of health care coverage, people whose premiums and co-pays, prescription drug costs and deductibles have risen beyond their capability, people who couldn’t get drug treatment or mental healthcare, people who have solutions, (particularly those who can talk about the provisions of a national single payer solution, H.R. 676, but others as well). Be sure to have people to listen to the testimony including members of Congress, city council members, legislators, and prestigious members of the community and media;
  14. Refreshments Plan for food and drinks for everybody — volunteered by the community if possible; these hearings are held at all hours of the day. Some of them are two days long with major speakers and films; some are in the evening with a spaghetti dinner and gospel music; some are simple meetings in someone’s home or church, library or community center; others are lunch through the end of the day.
  15. Video and Photos Be sure to video tape or Facebook live your event including some interviews with public officials, participants, organizers, and also visuals of the building and other signs of the location. Be sure to get all the names and addresses of those who testify. A video release form should also be signed by all individuals featured.  Send us photos and videos too so we can put them on our website.
  16. Follow Up Plan your strategies for the coming months including visits to Congressional offices and other ways to get official hearings and passage of our legislation. You might work for a City Council resolution following the hearing, plan direct action in support of people who cannot get healthcare, hold campus teach-ins, plan a memorial service for the thousands who die every year simply for lack of healthcare. Many power points and films are available on our site. Carry petitions, hold events in the park, plan a bike-a-thon, be CREATIVE.
  17. Hold a training for speakers on the issue.
  18. Plan to meet soon after the hearing, inviting all who participated in any way to build on this event.;  Send a list of interested people who came to the hearing or are involved in being a part of Healthcare-now.  We will add them to the mailing list.

Don’t Forget:
1. Consolidate written testimonies in an accessible form;
2. Make and share your media and collect other media reports about your event.
3. Send thank you’s to testifiers, Congress Members and other notables, co-sponsors, volunteers, participants, donors


Modified from original by Katie Robbins.

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