Republicans in the House of Representatives recently unveiled their new healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act, which is intended to replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Regardless of which approach to healthcare policy you support, right now is an important time for citizens to make their voices heard as the possible changes will affect everything from the taxes you pay to Medicare and Medicaid’s coverage of seniors.
Here at BallotReady, we believe it’s important for voters to express their opinions directly to their political representatives. Here are 5 quick ways to get involved:
1) Keep track of what’s happening in Congress
American politics is complex and often opaque. The new healthcare bill still needs to move out of committee hearings to the House floor, then to the Senate, and then signed by the President, and in between, there may be conference committees, CBO scores, and filibusters.
Luckily, several new websites are making it easier to follow legislation and register your opinion. Both IssueVoter and Countable offer nonpartisan summaries, pros and cons, and related news about bills in Congress.
2) Spend 5 minutes making 5 calls
5calls.org is a website that provides phone numbers and scripts for the representatives and senators you most want to reach on a given issue. On the topic of healthcare in particular, the website offers a script for expressing your concern about new tax cuts for the wealthy and another for requesting a Congressional Budget Office review of the Republican plan.
While really helpful and easy to use, 5calls.org only presents a limited number of issue positions, most of which lean liberal. But the same idea applies no matter which side of the aisle you’re on -- just find the phone numbers of your congresspeople and let them know your concerns.
3) Attend a politician’s town hall meeting
Enter your zip code on the Town Hall Project’s website and they’ll direct you to all the town halls near you. You can also sign up for their email newsletters or alerts to make sure you never miss out.
Showing up and asking questions of your representative directly, rather than speaking to a staff member on the phone, helps assure that your message is getting through. High turnout at town halls nationwide has been read by many political commentators as a strong sign of voter dissatisfaction. If turnout at your local event is high and you have a hard time getting the opportunity to speak, it can be helpful to plan to stick around after the main event, as many politicians stay longer and take some additional questions.
4) Get involved with local groups focused on issues you care about
Advocacy groups on both sides of the aisle, such as Indivisible, Planned Parenthood or the NRA, often organize local events that are easy to get involved. These groups provide the opportunity to focus in greater depth on the particular issues that matter to you and will be knowledgeable guides in helping you find even more ways to stay politically involved.
5) Vote in local and state election coming up in your area
It seems like the next election is far off in the fall of 2018, but that’s not true. Competitive and important state and local races are deciding everything from Georgia House seats to state senate majorities in the next few months. Turnout in these elections is often very low -- the Los Angeles mayoral and city council races recently attracted just 11% of voters.
BallotReady can help you stay informed on all the races down the ballot. As a nonpartisan online voting guide, we make it easy for voters to compare candidates based on issue stances, biographies, and endorsements. Just enter your address, and we’ll show you all the races and referendums in your area.
We hope this list will help you navigate the political terrain on healthcare and many other issues in the coming months. Make sure to get out there, make your voice heard, and vote informed.