When Congress is on recess, most lawmakers return to their home states to connect with their constituents. This is particularly true in an election year like 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic means that the action locations where members of Congress are working is extremely variable. With fewer opportunities for in-person visits, it is now more important than ever to sign up for your elected officials’ newsletters and follow them on social media to find engagement opportunities. Creativity and innovation are needed to serve older adults during these times, and it is also important for identifying personal ways to deliver your message about the issues facing older adults in your community.
- Aug. 1-Sept 7
- Oct. 3-9: House recess
- Oct. 3-Nov. 15 (Senate tentatively meeting week of Nov. 9)
- Nov. 21-29 (House recess also Nov. 30)
- Dec. 11-18: House recess
- Dec. 19-31
5 Steps to Connect with Your Lawmakers
- Find your legislators’ contact information using our Action Center.
- Prepare for an in-person meeting or host a site visit with your legislator.
- Attend a town hall meeting if there’s one in your area.
- Get prepared with our Advocacy Toolkit.
- Tell us how it went. Your response will help us track our advocacy efforts.
Talking Points: COVID-19 Relief
Please review our COVID-19 Advocacy Toolkit for news and ways to take action.
Talking Points: MIPPA Extension
The challenge: Federal outreach and enrollment efforts, originally authorized under the 2008 Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA), enable many of our nation’s most vulnerable, low-income Medicare beneficiaries to access assistance for prescription drug coverage and other essential health programs for which they are eligible. Additional, permanent funding would enable community organizations to dedicate sufficient resources and staff to these important efforts.
Current status: The House Ways and Means Committee approved legislation on June 26 that would increase overall funding for low-income Medicare benefits outreach and enrollment to $50 million and extend it through 2022. Funding is currently extended at current levels through November 30, 2020.
Key messages and learn more: Review the Improving Medicare Low-Income Beneficiary Enrollment issue brief and action alert.
Talking Points: Money Follows the Person (MFP)
The challenge: Enacted in 2005 with strong bipartisan support, Money Follows the Person (MFP) has helped over 75,000 the lives of older adults and people with disabilities while assisting states with moving away from funding nursing homes in favor of more cost-effective home and community-based services.
Current status: Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Cantwell (D-WA), and Reps. Guthrie (R-KY) and Dingell (D-MI) introduced bipartisan legislation, The EMPOWER Care Act (S. 548 / H.R, 1342), to improve and extend the program for five years. Absent an agreement on a permanent or long-term solution, MFP continues to receive short-term extensions, with the latest through November 30, 2020.
Key messages and learn more: Review our Improve Access to Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services issue brief to learn more about this issue and why you should thank Congress for supporting MFP extension and continue to urge for a long-term solution.
Talking Points: Prescription Drug Pricing and Part D Reform
The challenge: Prescription drug affordability is an ongoing challenge for Medicare beneficiaries. These older adults and people with disabilities struggle to cover their drug costs and obtain needed medications. Bicameral, bipartisan discussions are underway in Congress to address prescription drug costs, and NCOA and other national aging organizations are calling for Part D reforms in this debate. Key priorities include establishing an out-of-pocket cap; strengthening and improving access to the Part D Extra Help Low-Income Subsidy (LIS); streamlining Medicare Part D coverage determinations and appeals; and providing pricing stability.
Current status: The Senate Finance Committee marked up S. 2543, the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act Of 2019, on July 25. The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on H.R. 3, The Lower Drug Costs Now Act, on September 25 and the bill was passed by the House on December 12.
Key messages and learn more: Review our Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable for Medicare Beneficiaries issue brief and joint letter to the Senate Finance Committee.
Remember to Say Thanks
If you are able to meet with your members of Congress, don’t forget to send a thank you. It’s an important way to build the relationship. Send a traditional thank you letter through the mail and express your appreciation in a public way through social media.
- Use our sample thank you letter to get started.
- Look up your delegation’s social media info using Twitter’s verified list.
Then Share It!
Sharing your advocacy efforts will encourage others to join in the effort. Tweet a photo from your meeting or post a recap on Facebook. Be sure to mention the member of Congress in the post to publicly recognize their willingness to learn more about their senior constituents.
If you have any questions or comments, please contact the NCOA Public Policy & Advocacy team.