Late last year Congress finally passed its FY22 Appropriations bills, which included a $1 million increase to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) C...
'Tis the Season to Work with Your Legislators on Kidney Health Policies
March 02, 2023, 9:18am EST
With legislative sessions in full swing at the state and federal levels, National Kidney Foundation’s Government Relations team is here to provide you with the knowledge you need to speak with your lawmakers confidently.
1. Know who represents you
Knowing who represents you at the state and federal levels is the first step to building a relationship with your lawmakers. Finding your legislators is as easy as doing a Google search or using a legislator search engine like Openstate.org.
Once you find your representatives, take some time to research them. Learning about your state and federal representatives’ expertise, their professional background before taking office, and their committee assignments can help you get a better idea of who they are. While researching your federal representatives, you can use the Voices for Kidney Health Legislator Scorecard to find out how your lawmakers supported the kidney community’s policy priorities during the 117th Congress.
2. Build a relationship
It can be intimidating to start fostering a connection with your representative, especially if it is your first time, but their job is to hear from constituents like you. Patience is key when initiating communication with a representative’s office, especially at the federal level. It is important to keep in mind that legislators can oversee anywhere from a couple hundred to thousands of people, but don’t let that discourage you. The best compliment you can get from a legislator is hearing “you again?” when you contact their office.
Sending an introductory email and requesting a meeting is a tried-and-true way of getting your foot in the door. Make sure to include information about yourself and a brief explanation of why you are requesting a meeting. Depending on the lawmaker it can take 3-4 weeks to get a conference scheduled. Don’t hesitate to follow up if you have not heard back after a few days.
Curate your email
If you are supporting specific legislation, explain why and how it is important. Remember to reference your personal kidney health story!
We recommend following this email format:
- Salutation: Ensure that you use the official title of the lawmaker.
- First paragraph: Introduce yourself and explain why you are emailing.
- Second paragraph: Expand more on the subject of your email. Be specific, especially if you are supporting a certain piece of legislation. Remember to include your kidney health story!
- Conclusion: This can be a follow-up meeting or supporting the legislation you proposed. This tells your representative what you want and allows you to hold them accountable. Here are all the laws and priorities NKF hopes your representatives will support.
- Signature: Include your address and contact information. Providing your address shows the lawmaker that you are their constituent.
If you need help curating your email or have questions about your future meeting, please reach out to NKF staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also become a Voices for Kidney Health Advocate and we will send you everything you’ll need to make an impact.
3. Follow up
Sending a thank you email is a great way to remind the staff of your meeting and reinforce your message. If you meet with a legislator, ensure to thank them for their help and remind them of the issues you discussed. If you met with staff, thank them and ask for a follow-up from the meeting by the legislator.
The follow-up email is a great place to provide resources and additional information on kidney health policies. Find shareable resources here.
First diagnosed with kidney disease in 1999 at twenty-seven, Melissa Bensouda knows better than most that living with kidney disease is a life-long journey. She spent ...