118th Congressional Session 1st Quarter Exercises & Drills
AcuCongress 2023 All Rights Reserved
Our mission is to teach industries the techniques and strategies that will create a cohesive Advocacy Ecosystem that trains individual advocates, provides collective exercises and drills that build rapid response teams, and help each individual industry member establish and maintain working constituent relationships with local, state and federal legislators & regulators that govern their field. AcuCongress works with EVERYONE in the industry to help strengthen the connective tissue that helps the practitioners of Traditional Asian Medicine and all of the varied associations, leadership organizations, schools, students, suppliers, service providers & allies work together to achieve their common goals efficiently and consistently. Introduction: Welcome to AcuCongress!
We are excited to work with you and hope that you will take what you learn back into the world and employ them for all your advocacy efforts and organized campaigns!
How to Use This Book:
At AcuCongress, we focus on teaching key components of advocacy in compartmentalized ways. Each week of a Congressional session will provide specific lessons that are tied to active drills that prepare you for ANY advocacy effort, regardless of issue or affiliation. We encourage you to read through the lessons, do the "homework", participate in all collective drills...and here is the most important part...encourage your colleagues to do the same. Advocacy Ecosystems require massive amounts of communication (Water,) encouragement (Sunlight,) and conditioning or repeated practice (Nurturing) to work effectively. The more individual L.Acs that train to advocate for their profession and support the industry at large, the greater our possibilities for success!
After each lesson, we will include tips for associations, student organizations & schools, and ideas for how to tailor the drill for your own needs and specific issues.
Before we begin: We engage Congress in all ways possible, but collectively our medium will be letter/email engagement, phone communication & virtual calls, social media campaigns, hybrid fly-ins, Congressional briefings and Acupuncture On The Hill. For social media, while Facebook is a great way to communicate with each other, it is not how we communicate with Legislators. For all of our drills, we will be working with Twitter. If you do not have a Twitter account, please create one to get the most use out of AcuCongress exercises, drills and official calls to action.
"Direct" Communication With Legislators: The Importance of Twitter
While Licensed Acupuncturists and the industry that makes up the professionals, students and suppliers have a healthy presence on Facebook, this is not the place to communicate "directly" with local, state or federal legislators. On a federal level, Twitter is so important that they list their Twitter handles inside Congressional Guides among other important contact information.
BEFORE YOU MOVE FORWARD WITH THESE EXERCISES: HAVE YOU COMPLETED THESE TASKS?
CREATE TWITTER ACCOUNT & Follow
Find Your Legislator HERE
BUILD YOUR NETWORK
GLOSSARY OF TERMS: "Acupuncture Industry" While all of us are familiar with the language, theory and processes of our profession and medicine, federal advocacy has its own language, theory and processes. Below is a list of terms that will be defined differently federally, and will be used throughout these lessons, exercises, active drills & overall Congressional session campaign.
A WORKING symbiotic environment in which ALL members of of an industry find and work towards common advocacy goals for the promotion, advancement & protection of the profession at the center of the industry.
The professional WORK FORCE of an industry. NOT ALL PROFESSIONS ARE DEFINED FEDERALLY. ACUPUNCTURISTS ARE. BLS codes are important to help track employment data for our industry and inform federal legislative & regulatory decisions affecting the profession.
This includes the professionals in practice, suppliers and service providers, schools, accrediting & certifying agencies, state regulatory boards, and trade associations associated with the profession. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics: 29-1291 Acupuncturists are FEDERALLY defined as: "Diagnose, treat, and prevent disorders by stimulating specific acupuncture points within the body using acupuncture needles. May also use cups, nutritional supplements, therapeutic massage, acupressure, and other alternative health therapies. Excludes “Chiropractors” (29-1011)." THE INDUSTRY, and ALL of its members that are affected by legislative & regulatory policy, is the primary stakeholder. Because federal offices cannot handle the demands of individuals who may have competing interests, they designate stakeholder groups to be the conduit between the industry and federal offices. Normal stakeholders in all federal actions regarding a labor force and the way it engages in trade of services or goods to the public that require federal funding, oversight and regulations include industry trade associations, subject matter experts, and special interest groups (SIGs). Stakeholder groups that inform the office are expected to survey those they represent and accurately convey their positions to the sponsoring office and to work for solutions if there are special interest differences.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS: Agencies, Committees & Caucuses
Department of Health & Human Services includes most of the agencies we work with federally. You can find the list of agencies here: https://www.hhs.gov/about/agencies/hhs-agencies-and-offices/index.html
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services: Regulatory Agency that governs healthcare programs for the elderly & disabled.
Social Security Act. Governs federal social programs for healthcare services.
US House Committee on Ways & Means: Governs CMS.
US House Committee on Energy & Commerce. Governs broad healthcare policy
US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. Governs healthcare policy.
US Senate Finance Committee. Governs CMS.
Caucuses are Congressional "clubs" that help them stay informed on issues and form working task forces and voting blocks to work collaboratively. The bipartisan Integrative Health & Wellness Caucus will be the avenue by which we hold Congressional briefings throughout the campaign.
SPOTLIGHT: STAKEHOLDERS of the "Acupuncture Industry" Most professions are represented by one (though sometimes more,) national organization that has at least 50% of the industry as members. In the Acupuncture industry, one problem is that no single national association has captured the cross-cultural membership of both the Asian and American communities together ON THEIR OWN. There are an estimated fifteen (15) national organizations working on issues involving federal acupuncture services, delivery, reimbursement & expansion into federal programs. Since no single leadership organization or voice has emerged, the office stakeholders are made up of INDIVIDUALS from the profession that have ties to multiple national and state organizations. Until the members of the profession can come to consensus on the issues they agree on, all active stakeholders who meet lobbying disclosure thresholds can be considered "special interest groups." This means that in order to gain consensus of the industry, all special interest groups must work together to protect the profession, and the industry as a whole. There are potential issues on which they cannot historically agree and have been unsuccessful in finding a solution; however, these organizations consistently work with the sponsor's office to represent the position of their respective coalitions and alliances. To find out more about who they are working with and what they are working for, please click on their logos below.
STRATEGY IS UNIQUE TO EACH STAKEHOLDER...WHICH IS WHY THEY MUST COMMUNICATE WITH EACH OTHER.
Legislatively, members of pertinent Congressional committees/subcommittees that will oversee the process of passage for federal language. Our legislative efforts will be focused on committees that govern healthcare in general and CMS directly. Hard
Targets are ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT while any bill is in committee. Note: Hard Targets are specific to legislative strategies of stakeholders.
There is no such thing as "Quality" vs "Quantity" in legislation: either a target is useful for getting the language you want passed, or it is not. While most stakeholders focus on making sure the hard targets are covered, in grassroots mechanics and implementation, the most important relationships are the three constituent relationships. While your elected officials may not be considered "hard" targets, after you establish a bipartisan bill (which we have,) the name of the game is VOLUME. Groups with developed constituent relationships have an easier time introducing bills with support, adding cosponsors and companion bills, an easier time adding their language to omnibus bills and shorter time for passage on the Chamber floors. For this reason, we consider developing constituent relationships and legislator engagement a top priority regardless of whether there is active legislation for the industry.
LESSON ONE: ESTABLISH CONTACT WITH YOUR LEGISLATIVE OFFICE
Level of Difficulty
LESSON: SELF-PACED RESEARCH: SELF-PACED ACTIVITY: 30min or less SURVEY: 20min or less
INDUSTRY: INDIVIDUALS ASSOCIATIONS SCHOOLS SUPPLIERS ALLIES
EASY - MEDIUM (DEPENDS ON RESEARCH & DATA MANAGEMENT SKILLS)
Get to Know Your Legislators Identify Key Staff Members Identify Target Type Introduce Yourself to Office Prepare for Social Media Drill: Legislator Tweet & Greet
1. 2. 3. 4. 5.
LESSON ONE: MATERIALS NEEDED
MEDIUM: Computer/Phone AcuCongress BaseCamp
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter
Download from Basecamp
Get to Know Your Legislators Whether you actively voted for your Representatives, they are there to help you with your District & Federal needs. In order to determine how best to approach any federal office is to learn what they stand for, causes or groups they advocate for or work with, their work spaces on Capitol Hill including Committees and Caucuses, and the messaging the legislator puts out into the world regarding OUR issues. These exercises are designed to help you research your legislators and apply what you learn to create an initial letter/email to establish a relationship with legislative offices.
AcuCongress Recommended Research Sites:
RESEARCH YOUR REPS!
LEGISLATOR'S WEBPAGES Congress.gov Govtrack.us
BillTrack50.com (free accounts for tracking legislators & legislation)
Ontheissues.org Opensecrets.org Social Media: TWITTER ESP.
Standard House Website: www.legislatorname.house.gov
Standard Senate Website: www.legislatorname.Senate.gov
Information for Legislator Folders/Dossiers
IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHO REPRESENTS YOU, PLEASE GO TO GOVTRACK.US AND ENTER YOUR VOTING ADDRESS.
Biographical Data: Office Websites, Social Media Pages
Paid Interests OpenSecrets.org
Stance on Healthcare/*Acupuncture Ontheissues.org
WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEY THINK? FOLLOW THEM ON TWITTER
Okay...You Represent Me, But Are We Aligned? We must look BEYOND party affiliation when working with legislative offices (or at least, trying to successfully accomplish our goals with our Legislators. People Connect With Others and Advocate For/Whom They Value.
FIND YOUR LEGISLATOR'S STANCE ON EVERYTHING KNOWN @ ONTHEISSUES.ORG
Identify Key Congressional Staff Members LEGISTORM.COM BILLTRACK50.COM LINKEDIN.COM (FREE ACCOUNTS AVAILABLE)
YOU SHOULD KNOW HOW TO CONTACT THE OFFICE SCHEDULER, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, HEALTH LEGISLATIVE AIDE, & DISTRICT DIRECTOR
NOTE: PLEASE DO NOT REACH OUT TO LEGISLATIVE STAFF EVER ON THEIR PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA PAGES
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE: Identify Target Type Is your legislator a CONSTITUENT target or a HARD target & Why?
Now that you've learned all you can about your legislator, what do you have in common? Where can you connect? Do you have similar backgrounds, upbringings, or educations? Do you share connections or causes? What about their personal story resonates with your own? Rather than leading with the obvious, political affiliation, view your Representatives as the human beings that are elected to work on issues that affect you and look for ways to connect. We are all in this together while they are in office. We need to establish & build a relationship for the duration of their service, not just for one issue. We need to make OUR cause, THEIR cause. CRITICAL THINKING: WHERE DO WE ALIGN?
ACTIVE INDIVIDUAL ENGAGEMENT EXERCISE: WELCOME YOUR LEGISLATOR (BACK) TO THE NEW CONGRESSIONAL SESSION
INSTRUCTIONS: Thoughtfully reach out to your Federal District Representative and two Senators in your state. Consider what you now know of them. Where do you connect? Make sure to congratulate them on their election or re-election. Offer to be a resource for the office on all things acupuncture. What says "Let's Work Together!"? You can use the AcuCongress template that is available but we are really hoping that NO TWO LETTERS ARE ALIKE! 1. 2.
If you know the direct email of your legislator, you can skip the letter and just email them a Congratulations/Welcome letter. If you must go through the legislator's website, feel free to cut and paste any of the AcuCongress letter that is helpful to you. Schedulers (a staff member you will have researched,) are the best people to send letters directly to the members. Other staff members of importance are District Directors, who are in contact with their bosses on behalf of their constituents every day.
Remember: You may be their FIRST and/or ONLY connection to acupuncturists
Click on Image to Access Word Doc
TWITTER TUTORIAL: CONSTRUCT A TWEET
GO TO HOME PAGE
EITHER START WRITING IN THE BOX AT THE TOP, OR
CLICK ON THE "TWEET" BUTTON ON YOUR SCREEN, WHICH WILL CONNECT WITH A POP-UP SCREEN.
TWITTER TUTORIAL: ATTACHMENTS
BEFORE YOU HIT "TWEET"
CLICK PHOTO ICON ON SCREEN
YOU MAY UPLOAD IMAGES FROM YOUR PHONE OR COMPUTER
TWITTER TUTORIAL: IMPORTANCE OF HASHTAGS
HASHTAGS CONNECT PEOPLE THROUGH TOPICS OF INTEREST TO VIEW #TOPICS, YOU MAY USE THE #EXPLORE FUNCTION ON YOUR SCREEN TWITTER ANALYZES #TRENDS AND CAN BOOST YOUR CAUSE WITH VOLUME TWEETS
TWITTER TUTORIAL: PINNING TWEETS
YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF PINNING TWEETS TO THE TOP OF YOUR PAGE ACUCONGRESS WILL PIN IMPORTANT TWEETS FOR THE DURATION OF HASHTAG CAMPAIGNS
TWITTER TUESDAY: FEBRUARY 14, 2023 #WeAreTheAcupuncturists
TWEET THE FOLLOWING (OR ANY VERSION THAT SOUNDS MORE LIKE YOU:
"Hi @MYELECTEDOFFICIAL As your constituent, AND resident Acupuncturist, I'm inviting you to the upcoming Congressional briefing: @ACUCONGRESS PRESENTS: #WeAreTheAcupuncturists Come find out what it takes to be #LicensedtoPracticeAcupuncture on March 17, 2023 in HVC-215 at 10am!"
DON'T FORGET TO SEND THE ATTACHMENT FOUND HERE
BUILDING YOUR ADVOCACY ECOSYSTEM GETTING TO KNOW OUR LEGISLATORS IS AN INDIVIDUAL ENDEAVOR, BUT WHEN DONE COLLECTIVELY, IT IS GRASSROOTS ACTION. HOW DO WE INCREASE THE IMPACT OF OUR COLLECTIVE GRASSROOTS ACTION?
Invite Your Colleagues thru Social Media, Alumni Groups, & Networks Encourage Your Patients to Reach Out to Their Legislators Follow other L.Acs on Twitter Join Relevant Industry Association Join an AcuCongress Regional Team Send Lesson One to Members in Regularly Scheduled Advocacy Alert Issue a Call to Action Encourage Members to join AcuCongress Regional Team Maintain an Assc. Twitter Account Put AcuCongress Playbook on Website (make sure to update weekly)
PROMOTE THE ADVOCACY OF THE PROFESSION YOU ARE HERE FOR: Put the Playbook on your webpages or in your advertising & communication to the industry. Encourage them to work together and work with them to achieve their advocacy goals. Invite AcuCongress to speak to Student Associations Run Exercises ON CAMPUS Create Contests with Other Schools Follow other L.Acs on Twitter Join Relevant Industry Association Join an AcuCongress Regional Team
FISHING FOR FEEDBACK!! TELL US WHAT YOU LEARNED AND HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT! https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AcuCongressLessonOne
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