Saturday, April 11, 2009

Grassroots Network: Big Push for Midwives Action Alert

Dear Friends,

Health Care Reform is coming FAST! We are hearing from multiple sources that bills are being drafted now, for voting during the summer. Therefore, we are forwarding along this Action Alert from The Big Push for Midwives (see below). To find out more about The Big Push for Midwives campaign, visit their site.

A couple of suggestions to add to the Big Push's Action Alert information: First, In approaching your Senator and Representative, consider that "health care reform" is a huge topic, and only 1% of women are giving birth at home. Therefore, start with the bigger picture: the high importance of reforming Maternity Care in order to improve birth outcomes (a problem in the US), lowering costs (inexcusably high in the US), and addressing "Comparative Effectiveness" (the new buzzword for studying what works and what doesn't in health care, for which funds have already been earmarked). CPMs certainly have an important role to play (as noted in the Big Push action alert), but you may be more effective if you start with the "big picture" issues.

Second, in addition to the BigPush FAQ flier linked below, Citizens for Midwifery has material that you may find very useful, for background information, ideas, or in some cases to give to the legislator or include with a letter. Among the many resources on our website, the following may be particularly useful:

CfM's Health Care Reform Recommendations to Obama Transition Team

Out-of-Hospital Midwifery Care: Much Lower Rates of Cesarean Sections for Low-Risk Women

State of American Childbirth--2005 and 2006 Data [note: this is the most recent data available]

And don't forget: if you are not able to personally visit your US Senator or Representative, write a letter! The sooner the better! CfM has some tips for writing letters to legislators. Developed for writing to state legislators, this guide can easily be adapted to this situation, and the basic tips all apply. Find this at:
Anyone Can Write to Their Legislator - It's Easy
Basically, hand write your letter, and keep the letter short and to the point (you can always include an additional fact sheet or two).

Susan Hodges, "gatekeeper"
From The Big Push for Midwives:

Urgent Request for Action!

WASHINGTON Must Hear Direct From Grassroots America

Folks, I have some urgent news to report. PushScouts who have attended White House town-hall health care meetings across the country with policy wonks and DC insiders have all returned with the same message:

Federal health care reform is moving fast and *the window of opportunity for including Certified Professional Midwives is rapidly closing.* Bills are being drafted now and any providers who aren't on "the list" by September
will be left behind.

The time to act is now.

*We need each and every Pusher* to schedule an in-district meeting with their member of Congress and two Senators today. Both chambers are in recess, and members are in their home districts until April 19th. This is a
*golden opportunity* to begin educating our federal representatives about CPMs and to make sure all of us are doing everything we can to *make sure that CPMs are included in the final reform package*.

Scheduling a meeting is easy, but many other groups are competing for face-time and the available *slots are filling up fast.* So please follow the instructions below and *call* your federal delegation today!

*Midwives, please forward this important information to your clients,* past and present, and ask them to schedule a visit with their federal representatives. Also, it's important that CPMs represent their profession at the federal level, so please *pick one or two clients you would like to accompany you to a visit* and ask them to join you.

Attached you will find a two-page FAQ that includes each of the messages your representatives need to hear. You can also download it from the PushSite.

All you need to do in the next week is *1)* pick one or two of your favorite points to talk briefly about, *2)* record any questions they may have that you are unable to answer to pass along for follow-up, *3) *leave the FAQ
sheet with their staff and *4)* report back to other Pushers about your meeting!

Because there is strength in numbers, we ask you to recruit one or two supportive allies to go to the meeting with you: community leaders, local clergy, physicians, nurses or other providers, a neighbor or member of your
family. It is important that our members of the Senate and Congress understand that *access to CPMs is important to Americans from all walks of life,* not just to those of us who choose this model of care or are CPMs ourselves.


All you need to do is identify your U.S. representative and two U.S. senators and contact them!

A. Use this link to determine your full zip code, which is your ZIP+four code.

B. Use this link and type in your ZIP+four code to determine your U.S. representative.

C. Use this link to determine your two U.S. senators.

Please make the call today! *We have 10 days* until their April recess is over.

Below is a list of tips and pointers to help you plan a smooth and easy visit with your federal representatives. Remember, they work *for you*!

*Tips for Visiting Your Members of Congress in Their District Offices*

§ When you call to make the appointment, be sure to *mention that you are a constituent*, where you live and that you would like to briefly discuss the importance of including Certified Professional Midwives, who are specialists in out-of-hospital birth, in federal health reform.

It may take more than one call to get an appointment. Don't be shy about calling more than once!

§ Meeting with the staff person in charge of health care is every bit as effective as meeting with your member of Congress. Don't be discouraged if your representative can't meet with you—convincing staff that your issue is worthwhile is *a huge step forward* in getting your representative to support you.

§ Take a look at your representatives' web pages and get some background on their issues of interest or any legislation they support that you do, too.

§ *Recruit at least one other person in your community to join you*, but appoint one lead spokesperson for the meeting.

§ Be sure to wear business-casual clothes—no jeans or t-shirts, please!

§ Be considerate of their time. Make sure you keep track of your time and articulate your position without running over your allotted time.

§ After you have briefly made one or two points about the importance of including CPMs in federal health care reform, *ask if they have any questions*.

§ If you don't know the answer to a question, tell them you will pass it along to *The Big Push for Midwives Steering Committee
* for follow up.

§ After you've answered any questions, *ask them if they have a position on CPMs and out-of-hospital birth.* Offer to provide them with more information if they haven't yet taken a position.

§ Even if they are non-committal, *ask them for advice about what you can do to get CPMs included in federal health care reform.* Legislators and staff appreciate being asked to share their expertise and insight about
the legislative process with constituents.

§ It is appropriate to take notes about any questions they may want follow up or about advice they are offering. Save notes on the rest of the discussion for after your meeting.

§ Be sure to leave staff with your contact information and make sure you have theirs.

And of course, please don't forget to thank everyone for their time!

*The Final Push*

After you leave, sit down and conduct a brief review with others at the meeting. Assign someone to take notes and write down any key information or questions such as the legislator/staff's position, questions they have, objections they raised and any advice they offered.

Write legislators and staff after the visit to thank them for their time. Remind them of anything they may have agreed to do and send any additional information they may have requested.

*Report back to The Push Team*!* *Please forward notes and questions to Steff at and share your experience, thoughts and tips with others at The Big Push for Midwives Facebook Discussion board.

Don't be shy about staying in touch with legislators and staff with alerts or other relevant news or information about CPMs. Effective advocacy at the legislative level is all about relationships—it's important to start building them now with your federal representatives and their staff.

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