Contacting Members of Congress

AAHD is committed to advancing federal public policy that promotes initiatives for people with disabilities. AAHD encourages visitors to contact their Congressional Representatives on legislation and programs that advance and promote the needs of people with disabilities. Please use the following as a brief guide for communicating with Congress and learning more about the legislative process.

How Do I Identify the Names of My Senators or Representative?

To obtain the name of your Senators and Representative go to www.congress.org and follow their simple directions. You need to submit your zip code and all the information you need appears.

How Do I Contact My Legislators?

Dear Senator (name)
The Honorable (insert name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
www.senate.gov
(202) 224-3121

The main switchboard at the U.S. Capitol reaches all Senate offices and committees. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office.

Dear Representative (name)
The Honorable (insert name)
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
www.house.gov
(202) 224-3121

The main switchboard at the U.S. Capitol reaches all House offices and committees. Call (202) 224-3121 and ask for your Representative’s office.

Where Can I Obtain Copies of Current and Past Legislation?

To view copies of current and past legislation go to http://thomas.loc.gov. You can view the summary and status of any bill, the complete text of the legislation, identify sponsorship and follow the actions of the bill.

Are There Basic Tips for Sending an E-mail or Letter to Congress?

Letters or emails to your Congressional or State legislators can make a difference when it comes to educating your legislator on an issue that is important to you. Your legislatorSHOULD listen to his/her constituents in order to understand the view of the people he/she represents. Correspondence is an important part of developing a positive relationship with your legislator, but there are some basic guidelines to ensure you gain the most from your letters/emails. Remember your legislator receives numerous letters/emails on a daily basis, so your correspondence needs to be clear and concise to increase chances of receiving a timely and thorough response.

The following are some basic tips to ensure you receive the most from your correspondence:

  1. In the first paragraph of your letter/email, identify yourself and that you are a voting constituent in your legislator’s state or district.
  2. In the first paragraph, indicate whether you are writing on behalf of yourself, or on behalf of an organization or coalition.
  3. In the following paragraphs, provide facts and examples to support your position, including any cost or regulatory impact of the bill/policy you are either supporting or not supporting. If you have specific data or statistics to support your position, cite this information. Data often drives funding.
  4. Remember to personalize the issue you are writing about and how the legislation will positively or negatively affect you or those you represent.
  5. In the concluding paragraph, thank your legislator for his/her time and interest and ask for a response in a timely fashion. Provide a method for follow-up, such as a phone number or email address.
  6. Limit your letter to one page!

What are some Basic “Talking Points” for Advancing Health Promotion and Wellness For People with Disabilities?

The following are points to use when speaking to your legislator about the importance of health promotion and wellness programs for persons with disabilities.

  • There are 54 million people with disabilities in our country.
  • A recent study estimates that 40% or 22.4 million persons with disabilities experience at least one secondary condition each year and that most of these secondary conditions are preventable.
  • In 2000, the cost of providing medical care to people with disabilities was more than $350 billion, almost 50% of the health care budget.
  • Health promotion programs and programs to prevent secondary conditions have been proven to be effective in teaching people with disabilities to become more responsible for their health care and better health consumer and advocates.
  • The current budget of the CDC Disability & Health Program is approximately $13 million. The program provides grants to states to build statewide capacity in health promotion and the prevention of secondary conditions and supports demonstration programs.
  • It is estimated 60% of secondary conditions could be prevented each year, if all persons with disabilities participated in programs of health promotion. That translates to a savings of $40 billion/year in Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance costs.
  • One of the major missions of public health is prevention. We must collect epidemiological data about disabilities and their determinants, risk factors, and consequences to learn more about reducing health complications in persons with disabilities.

If you are planning a visit to Washington, DC, AAHD encourages you to call your Legislator’s office to arrange a meeting to discuss issues of importance. AAHD also encourages visiting your Legislator at his home office when he/she is in their home district. If you would like further assistance with your strategies for visits or correspondence, please contact AAHD at (301) 545-6140.