On November 15, 2019 IMHCA hosted its first letter-writing event!
Here is some information to engage in letter-writing at home in case you were unable to attend. If you feel comfortable writing your congress person or have experience in doing so - go for it with your own style. New to letter-writing? Here is some helpful information to get started. You are welcome to email legislators instead of writing letters if that appeals to you or is more accessible - I encourage you to hand write or type a letter and mail it, if possible. In advocacy work, this is found to be the most effective way to communicate with legislators.
What are the letters about? These specific letters are within the framework of legislative accountability - so, they aren't framed with necessarily kind or supportive language. The goal is to hold our legislators accountable for allowing harm legislation (adding work restrictions as apart of Medicaid expansion) to pass this past session. Even if your own legislator was opposed to adding work restrictions to Medicaid expansion, we are still holding them accountable for not persuading their peers to oppose this legislation. Salient points to bring up, supported by counseling research literature, are listed in the attached document.
How do I locate my legislators? Here's a link to locate your legislator: https://legislature.idaho.gov/legislators/whosmylegislator/ You do not have to write to your own specific legislator because you are a constituent in their district. Feel free to write to other legislators who represent a part of the state you feel connected to or who publicly and strongly supported this harmful legislation (for example, Sen. Thayn).
How do I get my letter started? I find it most effective to begin my letters with, "Sen./Rep. ______, my name is Kelsey Sarasqueta-Allen and I am a constituent in your district. I am a licensed professional counselor/licensed associate marriage and family therapist and a counselor education doctoral student at Idaho State University. I am writing to you in regards to Medicaid work restrictions legislation that was passed this past legislative session and how harmful this legislation is to the mental health of Idahoans." From there, feel free to pull direct language from the attached document to discuss why this legislation is harmful to Idahoans from your perspective as a counseling professional.
What do I do with my letter? It's crucial you include your mailing address on the outside of the letter - otherwise, these letters are not read or responded to by our legislators or their aides. Essentially, legislators have to keep tally of letters they receive in connection with specific issues and letters without return mailing addresses will not count. Be sure to put your mailing address on it! Depending on if you are mailing a senator or house representative, the addresses are State Senate, PO Box 83720, Boise ID 83720-0081 or House of Representatives, PO Box 83720, Boise ID 83720-0038. If you find yourself near the capitol building - no need to mail the letter, you can drop it off in the mailroom on the third floor of the building. It is legally required that representatives respond via mail to letters they receive, so expect a letter back in the next few months.
We recently wrote to our legislators to hold them accountable for passing legislation that put work restrictions on Medicaid expansion. You can refer to this word document to make salient points: Legislative
accountability: Medicaid expansion work restrictions
Check out our events calendar for more letter writing events in the future!