IFFGD/the Digestive Health Alliance has scheduled its annual event, Virtual Advocacy Day (known in past years as Congressional Call-In Day), in support of HR 2311, the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2015 for tomorrow, Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Currently, HR 2311 is officially supported by 3 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing both political parties and 3 states. They are the initial sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative André Carson (D-IN-7), and Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19).
Virtual Advocacy Day is an excellent opportunity for constituents of current supporters to express their appreciation to their legislators, as well as for U.S. citizens whose Representatives are not yet co-sponsors to advocate for their support. On June 21 IFFGD/DHA and other IBS sites, including IBS Impact, strongly encourage all U.S. citizens with all functional gastrointestinal or motility disorders (for example, irritable bowel syndrome, GERD, gastroparesis, chronic idiopathic psuedo-obstruction, Hirschsprung’s disease, functional (recurrent) abdominal pain, cyclic vomiting syndrome, functional dyspepsia and many others, which collectively affect at least 25% of the population), concerned family members, friends, co-workers or classmates, health and human service professionals who work with people with functional GI or motility disorders, to call, write and/or tweet their Representatives about HR 2311. A strong, unified presence by many voices on the same day will make an impression that can pave the way for additional support.
If you know the member of the federal House of Representatives who represents you, the direct telephone number for his or her Washington, DC office and an email contact form can usually be found on his or her official website, which can be located by an Internet search of his or her name. Keep in mind that your Representative may be different from before because of the 2012 elections, district boundaries that may have been re-drawn, or if you have moved. If you are not sure who is your Representative, you can look up this information at http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ or call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at (202) 225-3121.
During business hours Eastern time tomorrow, July 21, if you choose to call your Representative’s office, identify yourself as a constituent and give your name and the town or city in which you reside. Ask to speak to the staff member who deals with health issues. You may be asked for your street address or phone number. This is to confirm that you do live in the Representative’s district and/or to allow the office to contact you to follow up. If you are nervous, in advance of calling, write down notes for yourself or a short presentation to read. You do not have to be an excellent speaker, just a person that the legislator and his or her staff will see as a real person with real needs. Be polite, keep the conversation on topic and limited to a few minutes, and thank the staff person for his or her time. At a minimum, clearly state that you wish for the Representative to support HR 2311, or express your thanks if he or she has already signed on.
Beyond this, you may choose to briefly explain your personal interest and/or experience with functional GI or motility disorders (for example, have had/family member has had irritable bowel syndrome for X years and has had difficulty finding appropriate treatment) and/or why functional GI and motility research and education provided for in HR 2311 are important in general such as what a functional GI or motility disorder or your specific one of interest, like IBS, is, how many people it affects, usually affects both genders, all ages, all ethnic groups that IBS/functional GI disorders are usually chronic. often misdiagnosed or mistreated and effective treatments, providers and local community services are limited. IFFGD/DHA has suggested talking points on its website for Virtual Advocacy Day 2015. Thank the staff member again before ending your call. If the staff member who deals with health issues is not available, leave a brief message with the above details on voice mail or with the staff member who answers the phone.
If emailing, see some suggestions in the May 18, 2015 post. It is rare for such advocacy calls and emails to result in an immediate commitment to a particular bill, but one purpose of Virtual Advocacy Day is to create awareness of the needs that affect large numbers of people and momentum for increasing Congressional support.
For more information on HR 2311 and advocacy strategies, including links to the bill, click on the HR 2311 category in the right sidebar of this blog to see all posts on this topic.
IBS Impact urges all U.S. citizen readers of this blog to participate in the important and easy advocacy effort and to spread the word among your supportive relatives, friends and functional GI and motility disorder groups. The progress of HR 2311 is in our hands.
Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Facebook page or Twitter feed for further updates on HR 2311 as they occur. Links to the social media sites can be found on the right sidebar of the blog.