Universal Health Care 2000 Universal Health Care 2000 Banner
U2K Home Page
U2K Contacts
About the U2K Campaign
Endorsers and Links
Faith Communities
Join the Campaign
U2K News and Activities
Related Campaigns
Resources and materials
Search the U2K Website
U2K Site Map

U2K Organizing Handbook

Table of Contents


     Educating Your Members
     Networking with New Organizations
     Coordinating U2K Activities

     Making U2K Deep: How the Campaign Can Help to Build Your 
     Linking U2K to Work You're Already Doing
     Educating Your Members

     Making U2K Broad: Reaching Out to New Constituencies
     Who to Approach
     How to Approach

     U2K Steering Committee

     How to Organize U2K Forum
     How to Organize a Town Hall Meeting
     How to Organize a Day of Action

     Finding Out About Candidates
     Setting Up a Meeting with Candidates
     Organizing Candidate Forums
     Writing to Candidates
     Bird-Dogging Candidates
     U2K Candidate Question

     Letters to the Editor
     Contacting Editorial Boards
     Developing Media Lists
     Writing Press Releases
     Interview Tips



The Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign, or U2K, aims to use the 2000 elections to move America towards achieving comprehensive, quality, accessible. affordable and publicly accountable health care for all.

The U2K Campaign aims to unify the efforts of all supporters of universal health care, to build a strong movement of the broadest spectrum of advocates that cannot be ignored. 2000 is the first year in a coordinated, multi-year Health Care Justice Campaign.

A strong U2K Campaign will accomplish three objectives. It will:

1. Increase the political visibility of fundamental health care reform nationwide;

2. Strengthen local health care coalitions and create new linkages with organizations concerned about America's health care crisis;

3. Help create an energized bloc of universal health care supporters in the next Congress.

The U2K Campaign is a grassroots organizational campaign, and its success will depend on the level of commitment and engagement of the organizations that choose to join the campaign, and the breadth and depth of that participation.

Organizations that join the U2K Campaign are called upon to:

1. Educate their members on the health care crisis and the need for universal health care;

2. Reach out to other organizations to join and engage in the U2K Campaign;

3. Build strong, effective coalitions with other U2K endorsers and allied groups to place the universal health care back on the national agenda in the 2000 elections.

Universal health care will not be achieved without major public pressure. This year we can influence the 2000 political debate, build a broad, diverse movement, and create a universal health care bloc in the next Congress. In 2001 these organizations will work with elected officials in Congress to develop a legislative strategy for universal health care.

This Organizing Handbook is a tool to help endorsers engage in the U2K Campaign in four ways: educating your members, networking with new organizations, coordinating activities in your state, and approaching candidates for their support of universal health care.

Once organizations choose a level of engagement, this handbook serves as a guide to possibilities for engaging in the campaign.

Engagement in the U2K Campaign

The endorsement of the U2K Campaign by your organization is the first step. The real success of U2K hinges upon the active involvement of endorsing organizations and their members. This campaign aims to create a new health care justice movement that is inclusive and founded on strong principles for comprehensive, accessible, quality, affordable and public accountable universal health care ó the ìUî in U2K.

The goal in 2000, the fist year of this multi-year campaign, is to build a solid base of public support for the campaign principles, and to use this base to elect a large, committed bloc of members of Congress. The movement built by the U2K campaign will move beyond principles to policy beginning in 2001 with the new Congress and administration. The U2K Campaign is very clear that no single policy solution to achieving universal health care is part of the agenda of this campaign.

Thus, many organizations that support health care justice, but have not yet taken a stand on the best way to achieve it, should be invited to join the U2K Campaign and should find it appropriate to do so. They will then be part of the movement that creates the political base to make it happen, and be part of the national debate that crafts the policy solution to achieve it.

There are three basic levels of engagement for organizations in the U2K Campaign:

Educator - commitment to educate members and engage candidates.

Networker - commitment to educate members, engage candidates and reach out to other groups to join the campaign.

Coordinator - commitment to educate members, engage candidates, reach out to other groups, give staff and/or volunteer time to the campaign, give financial support and participate in state level strategizing; eligible to join Campaign Steering Committee.

The U2K Campaign must be built as broadly as possible ó campaign materials providing talking points for various constituencies to aid in this process are being developed and will be posted on the U2K web site. These are just some of the constituencies which are getting involved and to whom further outreach is underway:

community groups

disability groups

ethnic constituency-based groups, including African-American, Hispanic and Asian

faith communities

health care justice coalitions

health providers and advocates ó physician practices, professional organizations, public health groups

labor unions and retiree organizations

political clubs and party groups

senior groups

women's organizations

This handbook contains many ideas for engaging in the campaign. Be creative, work broadly and use this campaign as an opportunity to reach out to groups with whom you have never worked before!


Making U2K Deep:

How U2K Can Help Build Your Organization

To be successful, the U2K Campaign not only must reach a broad group of endorsing organizations, but also foster depth of participation among members. This section of the handbook contains tips on educating and involving your members in U2K.

This campaign can be a tool for encouraging leadership among your members, and building their investment in your organization through the campaign. Here are a few tips for educating members about U2K and for moving leaders from the sidelines to the front lines.

Some tools for educating your members about U2K

Inform your members about Health Care Justice NOW, the U2K fax/email newsletter, and invite them to sign up to receive it (email <uhcan@uhcan.org>);

Let your members know about U2K literature, such as the Education Handbook, which can be ordered from the office or downloaded from <www.u2kcampaign.org>;

Excerpt portions of Health Care Justice NOW for your organization’s newsletter;

Send out a mailing with U2K literature.

Plan an event to raise awareness about the U2K Campaign.

Encourage your members to check out the U2K website: <www.u2kcampaign.org>

Place U2K on the agenda at a board or membership meeting. The U2K Campaign Call provides an overview of the campaign, and the Education Handbook provides tips for talking about the campaign. Campaign literature is available from our web site, and U2K staff can provide copies. (Please make your own copies where possible.)

Talking to your members about U2K

When you plan an event focused on U2K, talk about the stake your members have in health care reform. (See "Making U2K Broad" , for tips.) Sketch the links between U2K and the work that your organization is doing, and how U2K can be a tool for developing strong leaders.

Talk about how the campaign is being built broadly to involve different constituencies and organizations - national, state and local. U2K can help to strengthen your organizational ties, to create new, more vibrant coalitions.

Talk about the need for depth in the campaign, for organizations that involve their members at the grassroots. When candidates in 2000 see a strong coalition whose members are working towards universal health care, they'll take notice.

Suggest ways that members can be involved. Pass around a sign-up or pledge sheet tto build a list of contacts and commitments for U2K. Give specific dates of area-wide and state U2K activities — the state Coordinator or the U2K staff can help you get a list.


Making U2K Broad: Reaching Out to New Constituencies

The success of the U2K Campaign will depend, in part, upon the breadth of organizations that endorse and engage in the campaign. The national U2K campaign is focusing especially on outreach to communities of faith, health care providers, disabilities groups, seniors, and labor unions as being among the most likely allies. There may be other groups that represent other constituencies in your area. All are welcome and urged to join the U2K Campaign.

Organizations should work to identify major groups in your state or region that represent key constituencies. For instance, what senior organizations are active in your area? Are there local chapters of national senior organizations that have already endorsed U2K that your group can reach out to? Here are tools for reaching out broadly to organizations for their participation.

WHO to Approach

List major organizations - national, state and local - that represent the constituencies or groups you are targeting. If organizations are national (whether or not the group has endorsed), you may want to focus outreach on a local chapter. Often, pressure from the bottom up - from local chapters - can encourage national organizations to endorse. If you would like ideas for groups to contact, U2K staff can help identify possibilities.

Prioritize organizations in terms of what they bring to U2K. New constituencies bring added breadth, while organizations with a large, active membership bring added depth. You may want to start with groups in your network, but go beyond groups you’ve worked with before.

Delegate the work of reaching out to organizations for endorsement of U2K. Decide who is best to reach out to individual organizations. Ask each member interested in working on U2K to take responsibility for approaching several organizations.

HOW to Approach

Know the organization’s constituency and focus - especially any emphasis on health care issues.

Target your pitch accordingly. How do/can the goals of U2K tie in with their agenda and constituencies?

Suggest how U2K can help them broaden and deepen their work and their organization. For example, being a part of a national campaign helps tie their local or state issues with national ones, helps to build and strengthen coalitions.

Seek a specific commitment for involvement in U2K. Suggest the highest level of engagement you think the organization will commit to. Stress that engagement is key to U2K and that by building a campaign that engages a broad spectrum of groups affected by the health care crisis, we can win. Find out if they need more information, a speaker or any assistance you or the U2K staff can provide.

ï Talk about what engagement actually means. Brainstorm with the group about specific ways they can engage in U2K and use U2K to strengthen their work. Here are some categories of involvement that you can suggest:

State Coordinators

U2K Steering Committee

When considering ways to engage in the U2K Campaign, you should think about ways to collaborate and work with other endorsers in your state. State-based organizations that sign up at the Coordinator level take the responsibility of coordinating activities in their state, and in some cases will serve on the U2K Steering Committee.

The Campaign Steering Committee is the body of organizations responsible for strategic direction and state coordination and integration of activities. Membership on the Steering Committee is offered to state or national organizations that sign on as a ìCoordinatorî for the Campaign.

Coordinating organizations commit staff time, volunteer time and/or substantial donations to the U2K Campaign serve to coordinate U2K activities in their state. The goal of the campaign is to have at least one Coordinating organization in every state. U2K Campaign Coordinators participate in state-level strategic thinking about priorities for the Campaign and may act as a 'clearinghouse' for information, U2K events and endorsers within their state.

The Steering Committee will be representative of all the major constituencies participating in the Campaign. A key role of the Steering Committee is to maximize the breadth of the spectrum of groups interacting with the public and politicians. The goal is that the Committee will consist of at least one organization from every state where the U2K Campaign is present.

The Administrative Committee is the body of individual leaders responsible for direction and oversight of the management and strategy of the Campaign.

You can get a list of Steering Committee members and Coordinators from U2K staff, or download it from the web site. They may know about U2K events planned in your area, as well as have ideas and suggestions on how you can engage in the campaign.


U2K Events

How to Organize a U2K Forum

One good way to encourage new groups and constituencies to endorse and become engaged in U2K is to hold a meeting to bring them into the campaign. Here are a few tips for holding a successful meeting that will motivate organizations to join U2K.

Make a list of constituencies you’d like to invite. Then, match an organization with each of these constituencies. Try to invite as broad a group as possible. Go beyond groups you’ve worked with before, to create new linkages.

If you don't know which organizations to contact, ask. If you donít know any organizations from a given constituency, ask until you find out. The U2K staff may be able to help identify local chapters of national groups in your state.

Send out invitations to contact people at each organization. Find out who the right contact people are, if necessary, by calling the organization. Hold a mailing party and send out a letter of invitation as well as U2K Campaign materials. Suggest ways that the organization can get involved even if they can't attend. Send at least double the amount of invitations you'd like to attend. If you want 50, send 100.

Follow up with a personal phone call. Be persuasive. Pitch the campaign. Keep a record of calls. Develop a 'yes' list so that you can call them back.

Do reminder calls a few days before the event. Call everyone who said they would attend the meeting just to confirm that they'll be there.

Write an agenda. Decide with the other planners of the event how youíd like to present the U2K Campaign and U2K activities in your state. Decide who will speak, in what order, and for how long. Allow for feedback, comments and discussion. Make specific recommendations for action, and urge groups to endorse.

Have people sign in. Keep an accurate record of the people who attended, so that you can build your mailing list, and follow up to get them involved.

Get specific commitments. Passing around a pledge sheet or a sign-up sheet, or asking groups to publicly state their willingness to endorse U2K, can be one way of moving leaders of organizations into taking action in the U2K Campaign.

How to Organize a Town Hall Meeting

One good way to bring public attention to the issue of universal health care, build your base of U2K supporters and challenge public officials to support universal health care is to organize a town hall meeting around U2K, perhaps in connection with a local or state health care issue.

Choose a focus for your meeting, such as a hearing that links the health care crisis with the need for universal health care. One example might be holding a town hall meeting around managed care accountability, and tying it in to U2K. Ask experts and activists to testify.

Start collecting stories. Include representatives from major constituencies and organizations involved in the U2K Campaign. Include testimonies from each of these groups on how the health care crisis affects them, to show how the campaign is building a broad movement around an issue of widespread concern.

Send out invitations to legislators. Target candidates for Congress in the 2000 elections, but also invite city, county and state officials. Make follow up calls. Divide up the work among members of your organization, and have each person take several names on the list.

Print flyers and send out a media advisory. You should send out your publicity in several waves, for maximum effect. Send a media advisory at four weeks before the event, a press release two weeks before the event, and a final press release a few days before the event. Follow up with a phone call. This may help your group to get an interview or advance story, and to ensure that the event itself gets coverage.

Make reminder calls. Call those who agreed to testify to remind them of the time, place, date etc. of the event. Remind them of the time limit to their testimony. Ask them to submit their testimony in writing. If possible, call key people who said they would attend the event.

The night of the event, arrive early and start on time. Sign people in to develop your mailing list. Start the meeting on time, so that people don't wander out early. Ask organizations who attend to endorse and become engaged in the U2K Campaign. Follow up with them to let them know how they can become more involved.

Other U2K Events and Activities

The above U2K organizing events offer a few suggestions on how to engage in U2K. There are many others, including

house parties,

tabling at conferences, fairs, and other community events;

starting your own email listserv to keep local activists up-to-date on campaign

developments and health care justice issues (forward the U2K email newsletter to your own members if you wish),

coordinated actions, such as church services, rallies, etc., across your city or state on the same day.

We encourage you to develop your own U2K events and send us suggestions to include in the Organizing Handbook and to share with other U2K endorsers across the country. Endorsing organizations will receive the U2K email/fax newsletter which will keep them up-to-date on organizing tactics groups around the country are employing to build the campaign.


Engaging Candidates in the 2000 Elections

Ah, election season again. 2000 is the year of big campaigns, big money and big media democracy. And health care will be a big issue in the 2000 elections. Chances are, candidates for Congress will talk around the edges of health care reform. They'll pledge to enact a Patient's Bill of Rights, or protect Medicare, or expand health care for working families. But they may not address the need for fundamental health care reform - for universal, affordable, comprehensive and publicly accountable health care.

That is, not unless a grassroots campaign is mounted to place universal health care back on America's agenda, to make it a central issue in the 2000 elections and beyond.

Health care is a very popular issue in the year 2000. There are almost as many reform plans as there are candidates. Most candidates will say they support some kind of health care reform or coverage expansion. U2K must ask candidates specific questions about what they mean by universal health care. We must call for candidates support for universal, comprehensive, affordable and publicly accountable health care.

If candidates are to realize that this is an important issue, lots of voters need to talk to them about it long and often. This section of the U2K Campaign Handbook on Engaging Candidates offers ways to do this in an effective, organized way.

Finding Out About Candidates

Engaging candidates should begin with thoughtful research. Being prepared will show candidates that the U2K Campaign is serious about raising universal health care as a major issue in the 2000 elections. Visits to candidates should aim to ask informed, targeted questions about candidatesí views on health care, and to show the candidate that the campaign is well-organized and broadly-based, locally as well as nationally. There are a few important things you should know about candidates before approaching them.

The candidate's position on health care issues such as expanding health care for working families, covering the uninsured, Patient's Bill of Rights, Medicare, managed care accountability, insurance coverage for medications and others;

The candidate's position on universal health care;

The candidate's sources of campaign funding (insurance and health industries often contribute large sums to candidates to influence their positions)). Or, go to <www.opensecrets.org>, the website of the Campaign for Responsive Politics for detailed information on money and politics.

There are a number of sources of information about candidates.

Position Papers. If one is not available from the campaign office, ask a staff person for the candidate’s position on universal health care.

Newspapers. Libraries have copies (and back issues) of daily papers in your state, and some weekly papers. Many daily newspapers also have web sites.

The Internet. Most candidates have a web site. You can email questions to the candidates, read position papers, and find out about candidate appearances.

U2K Campaign office. Staff may be able to provide you with information about the candidates, or connect you with other U2K endorsers with that information.

Targeting Candidates

The U2K Campaign has two goals for the next Congress: 1. to create an energized bloc of universal health care supporters and, 2. to educate all members of Congress of Americans desire to address this issue.. In order to do this, U2K must be strategic about targeting candidates who are likely to support universal health care, as well as reaching out to 'swing' candidates that could be persuaded to support U2K by effective grassroots organizing. Here are a few tips on doing a 'power analysis' of your state's Congressional races before approaching candidates.

Get a list of the candidates. The Board of Elections in your local area should be able to help. Also, you can contact the Democratic and Republican Party headquarters in your state. Some races may have third party or independent candidates. The U2K web site will list candidates in many states by June 2000.

Find out as much as you can about the candidates. Read newspaper articles, surf web sites, call campaign offices for position statements.

Decide strategically which candidates to approach. Chances are, your organization wonít be able to mobilize around U2K in every district. Therefore, you should be strategic about where you place your efforts. Which Congressional districts or candidates are most important to target? Contested races will be especially important. In races that are not seriously contested, focus on communicating with influential incumbents.

Decide how to approach candidates. Find out which of your members (or members of a U2K endorser you're working with) live in the districts you want to target. Develop a 'spark plug' team who track candidates and work to organize delegations of individuals to approach candidates for a meeting, bird dog candidates, organize letter writing campaigns to candidates, organize town hall meetings, etc.

Setting up a Meeting with Candidates

OK, so now you're ready to approach candidates. First, contact the candidate's campaign office to arrange a meeting.

When you call, explain the goals of the U2K Campaign and that your coalition represents a large number of constituents concerned about universal health care. Talk about the depth and breadth of your U2K coalition. Ask for the earliest appointment for a small group (i.e. 3-5) to meet with the candidate to discuss the issue of universal health care. It's often better for someone who knows the candidate to request the meeting.

You will be asked how much time you need. It's often wise to ask for 20 to 30 minutes, although if the discussion is productive, the candidate may let the conversation continue. If you ask for more time, the scheduler may be less likely to agree.

Press for a meeting with the candidate rather than a staff member. Be flexible about the time. If you can't get an appointment, it's better to meet with a staff person than not at all. When the appointment is arranged or before the meeting, give the candidate's staff the names and organizational affiliations of the delegation.

Request copies of the Education Handbook, which addresses the health care crisis from various constituencies points of view, from the U2K office. Bring one to the candidate, adding literature or clippings about the health care crisis in your community.

Select a small delegation of knowledgeable people representing the breadth of your coalition, including the spectrum of constituencies involved in the U2K Campaign. The delegation should announce their organizational affiliations, and their constituencies. If possible, all should be voters in the district.

Schedule a planning meeting of the delegation a few days before the visit, preferably in person. At that meeting, cover the following items:

- Select an introductory speaker to give a concise overview of the issue (one or two minutes) to focus the meeting around the universal health care issue.

- Cover the most important points, emphasizing issues likely to be on the candidate’s mind (if known), and agree who will speak on each topic. Give some thought to questions and challenges you are likely to meet, and prepare thoughtful responses.

- Agree that delegation members will discuss only U2K - not their own or their organization’s views on other issues (even if the candidate asks).

- Be clear about logistics. Who will bring the packet and give it to the candidate? Who will be responsible for follow up? Who will write up the notes after the visit?

Use the meeting with the candidate to accomplish three goals:

1. Learn about the candidate's position on universal health care. Does the candidate already have a position? If so, what is it? If not, what questions or concerns must be addressed in order to gain the candidate's support of universal health care?

2. Persuade the candidate to support universal health care, through stressing its importance to voters in the district (cite studies and polls if possible), as well as to the broad and diverse constituencies that your coalition represents.

3. Obtain a statement in support of universal health care.

In the meeting, address the major points your delegation hopes to cover about the need for fundamental health care reform. These are the main points to convey about U2K:

I?? Main objectives of the U2K Campaign: the need to place universal health care back on the national agenda, to move America towards universal coverage.

II?? The breadth and depth of the U2K Campaign, a broad movement of organizations and constituencies committed to working together towards universal health care.

III?? The aim of the U2K Campaign to promote legislative solutions to the health care crisis through creating a powerful bloc of legislators in Congress who will work to move America towards universal health care.

IV The importance of universal health care to your constituency. Each delegation member should speak briefly to how the health care crisis affects his or her organization and constituency, to reinforce the broad appeal of U2K.

V? The goal of U2K in 2000 is to use a democratic process to create a national dialogue around the need for comprehensive, affordable, accessible, quality and publicly accountable health care for all. In 2001, we can craft policy solutions that move towards universal coverage. Emphasize the basic principles of universal health care:

Universal: accessible for everyone.

Comprehensive: a full range of services can be accessed to combat illness and maintain health.

Affordable: out-of-pocket expenditures do not create financial barriers to needed care.

Publicly accountable: appropriate oversight of publicly funded health care (the majority of health care dollars).

If the discussion wanders to other health care reform issues, explain that U2K endorsers have only taken a common position on universal health care. Unless your organization has its own position on specific policy alternatives, talk in broad terms about the need for universal health care that meets U2K Campaign goals. If the candidate suggests piecemeal reforms, ask how this fits into an overall vision for moving towards universal health care for all Americans. If the candidate asks a question you don't know the answer to, don't guess. Offer to get the information, and call U2K staff.

After the meeting, hold an evaluation and decide on follow-up action: sending more information, arranging an additional meeting, sending a thank-you note for the meeting and any positions that the candidate took in support of universal health care. Have someone write a report, including questions raised and the candidate's position, and contact information of campaign staff, so the U2K office can track candidates.

Organizing Candidate Forums

Public forums are a particularly good tool to use in contested races, to urge candidates to take a stand on universal health care and to allow voters a chance to become educated on the differences between candidates. They are also a good tool to use with candidates that you perceive as 'swing' candidates - that is, they don't currently support universal health care, but may be influenced by public pressure. There are a few steps you can take to ensure candidate participation and build an event that will educate voters about candidate's positions, and give them an opportunity to educate candidates about their views. Here are a few key suggestions that should help to ensure a successful event.

Select a time for the event that is agreeable to all candidates. Don't send a letter to campaigns urging their participation without first making sure they are available. They may have a scheduling conflict and be able to appear at a different time.

Decide whether you will allow surrogates for the campaign to present candidate's views. Don't allow one campaign to send a surrogate, but not the other.

Consult with campaigns on deciding a site. Some campaigns may view certain towns as unfriendly. Travel time may also influence a candidate's participation.

Send a written invitation four weeks in advance to the attention of the Campaign Manager and Scheduler describing the event and letting them know you will be following up by phone. Include contact information in case they have questions.

Follow up by phone three weeks in advance. Keep track of who you talk to.

Visit the offices and introduce yourself if you are not satisfied with their response time.

Designate one person to talk to campaign staff about the event.

Inform the campaign of the format you plan to use for the event at least one week in advance, to give the candidate time to prepare.

Provide U2K Campaign materials in advance. It will help the candidates prepare.

Offer to brief the campaign staff on the U2K Campaign. This will help them to prepare and will help you to build a relationship with the campaign.

Set a clear agenda, stick to time limits, and choose an unbiased moderator. This will ensure fairness to all candidates involved.

Set guidelines for use of signs and distribution of campaign materials at the event so that all campaigns are clear on the rules.

Conduct question and answer periods. One way is to ask audience members to write questions on index cards and ask volunteers to collect them and hand them to the moderator. This will ensure that questions are about universal health care.

Publicize the forum, invite reporters to attend, and let the campaigns know you are doing this. Good turnout will cause the candidate to take notice.

Writing to Candidates

Candidates watch their mail carefully. Letters help them to judge whether an issue is important to their constituencies. The volume of letters they receive can effect the way they perceive an issue and the stand they take during a campaign.

A personal letter or email is more powerful than a form letter - especially if personal stories are used. A handwritten letter is the most effective.

Identify yourself as a constituent if possible and as a member of a coalition interested in universal health care. Be sure to cite the breadth and depth of the U2K Campaign - that its diverse members are working together towards universal health care.

Focus on the issue of universal health care. If you have concerns about another health care justice issue, write a separate letter. Keep your letter brief (1-2 pages).

Say that the need for universal health care is the reason youíre writing in the first paragraph. Emphasize the urgency of addressing health care reform.

Give reasons for your stance. Tell personal stories where relevant and possible. Talk about the U2K Campaign as a way of joining with others in a broad movement for universal health care, citing the fact that you are part of a diverse, national campaign as well as a particular organization and constituency.

Ask where the candidate stands on universal health care and get a statement.

Write your complete return address on the letter and envelope.

Bird-Dogging Candidates

Find out when and where candidates are speaking. The U2K Coordinating organizations in your state or region may have a candidate sighting list. Get online - candidates will often list their schedules on their web sites - or call the campaign.

Bring friends. You can scatter in the crowd and make sure your questions are answered. The first time a question is asked, a candidate may avoid it. A follow-up question ensures that the candidate will answer.

Arrive early and sit in the front row so you will be noticed. Raise your hand as soon as there is a call for questions. Stay afterwards and talk to reporters about a candidate's response to your questions, and about universal health care.

Tailor your approach to the candidate and what you’ve learned about his or her stance on universal health care. Check in with the U2K Coordinators in your state or the U2K staff about the candidate’s statements on health care. You can even ask for clarification of a statement that was made in a previous speech or debate.

Tell personal stories, and be passionate, but avoid name-calling or blaming.

Write down your question beforehand. It should be concise, but well informed on the issues. You want to ask a substantive question that gets people thinking.

Stand in a spot where you can shake the candidate’s hand, and ask your question then. Candidates often shake hands with the crowd at the beginning and end of the event. Don’t let go of the candidate's hand until he or she has heard your question and begun a response.

Getting Commitments

When you get a commitment or statement in support of universal health care from a candidate, send a letter confirming it. Let him or her know that you intend to publicize the statement with your membership, other organizations and the general public.

>> Report to the U2K office to help us track candidate's positions.


Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign

Candidate Question

Adapted from the NH Asks Campaign, NH Citizens Alliance

Health care is a big issue in the 2000 elections. When candidates for Congress talk about health care, let's make sure they're talking about universal, comprehensive, affordable, publicly accountable health care. Let's ask:

America's health care costs too much, covers too little, and excludes too many. If elected, what will you do to ensure that all Americans have access to universal, comprehensive, affordable and publicly accountable health care?

By asking this question of candidates in the 2000 elections, broad coalitions of U2K endorsers can work locally to place universal health care back on the national agenda, and move America towards achieving universal health care.

Bird-Dogging Follow Up Form

Adapted from Money Watch 2000

Date Time:





Describe actions taken or questions asked:




Describe candidate's response (please be as accurate as you can):




Describe media/others response:




Recommended follow-up or additional action:




Your name:



City State Zip


Please return this form to:

The Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign
2800 Euclid Ave., Suite 520, Cleveland OH 44118
Phone: 216/902-5577 Fax: 216/241-8423

Email: uhcan@uhcan.org

Media Outreach

Much of the campaigning in the 2000 elections will take place not so much in the news but in 30-second TV commercials during the election coverage of the news hour. Candidates spend as much as 75 cents of every dollar to use television commercials to reach voters. Yet through smart use of the media, U2K activists can raise universal health care as a major issue. Using media intelligently can help to raise public awareness of health care issues, build support for the U2K Campaign, place pressure on candidates to support universal health care, and hold candidates accountable to commitments or statements made in support of universal health care.

Letters to the Editor

Letters to the editor help to raise the issue of universal health care with voters, the news media and candidates. Some smaller papers view the letters page as a community bulletin board, but most larger papers, which receive dozens to hundreds of letters each day, will print letters that are relevant to their coverage or opinion pieces. Make sure youíre familiar with the paper so that you can point to specific examples of good or bad coverage of health care issues. Responding to a particular story or opinion piece is often a good way to make sure that your letter gets printed.

Here are a few tips for writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper.

- Be brief. Stick to just a few paragraphs. Most papers have limited space and may turn away long letters, or if it’s edited, you won’t have say in what they cut.

- Be specific. In the first paragraph, state the intent of your letter. For instance, "I support universal health care." In the second paragraph, include background or examples on the health care crisis. In the third, state that the solution is universal health care. Finally, tell people how they can get involved in the U2K Campaign.

- Include name, address and phone number. Papers will only print your name and city, but most require an address and phone number to verify that it was your letter.

- Follow up. Call the newspaper and confirm your letter was received. After your letter was published, clip and save it. Send a copy to the U2K office so we can keep a record of media attention that the campaign has generated.

Here are a few points you may wish to include.

- Over the last ten years, America's health care crisis has deepened. The number of uninsured has risen to nearly one-sixth of the population, over 44 million people. For tens of millions more, needed care is either unaffordable or unavailable.

- Our for-profit, market-based health care system is not only failing to serve patients well, it is also failing to control costs. In the 1990ís, health care spending is once again rising rapidly, consuming about one-seventh of the nation's spending.

- Our for-profit managed care system is increasingly coming between doctors and patients, infringing on patient's right to choose the best care.

- Since the failure of national health reform in 1994, most politicians have taken up only piecemeal reform, while ignoring the basic problems of the health care system. U2K aims to place universal health care squarely back on the national agenda.

When talking about the solution to the health care crisis, you may wish to stress the key objectives of the U2K Campaign.:

- The U2K Campaign is organizing a broad, diverse movement committed to working together towards universal health care in the year 2000 and beyond. (You may wish to cite the various organizations and constituencies working to advance U2K.)

- U2K aims to bring about, through a democratic process, a national guarantee of comprehensive, accessible, quality, affordable and publicly accountable health care for all. U2K seeks to do the politics this year, the policy the next.

- U2K aims to increase the political visibility of fundamental health care reform through making it an issue in 2000. U2K asks candidates, "Do you support comprehensive, accessible, quality, affordable, publicly accountable health care for all?"

Contacting Editorial Boards

Larger newspapers have editorial boards - five to ten opinion writers, editors and sometimes reporters. Below a threshold of about 35,000 circulation, they usually have no more than an editor and a columnist. If you want a newspaper to print an editorial endorsing universal health care or U2K, you should follow a few guidelines.

- Find out where the paper stands on the issue. If you don't already know, call the editorial office and ask. Don't give up if you're bounced around.

- If the newspaper doesn't support universal health care, ask them for guidelines about submitting an Op Ed. When you submit your Op Ed, point out the newspaper's stance and thank them for printing your side of the story.

- If the newspaper supports universal health care, thank them and introduce yourself as a community member and longtime reader. Offer to be a source.

- If the newspaper is neutral or needs more information, offer to visit. Schedule a meeting with the editorial board. Ask them to consider inviting the reporter who covers this issue to attend. Bring along a small delegation of activists that represent the diversity of the U2K Campaign, and copies of the Education Handbook.

- Ask for the editorial board's support of universal health care and the U2K Campaign. Ask when you might expect to see an editorial on the issue.

- Follow up with a thank you note and a phone call when they print the editorial.

Developing Media Lists

A media list is an essential tool. You can use it to pitch stories to the media, invite them to events and send press releases. To be useful, the media list must be accurate. These are a few tips to help you as you prepare media lists for U2K events in your state.

- Decide what lists you want to create. There are the major media outlets: radio, television, print and news services. There are also the contact types: healthcare reporters, Editors and Assignment Editors. Finally, there's the coverage area: local outlets, regional or state outlets, and national outlets. You have to decide what media outlets to put on your list. For local events, focus on local media.

- Phone media outlets to develop a list. You don't need to speak with each reporter. Simply ask the switchboard operator who the appropriate contact person is. If possible, find out who the health care reporter is. If they don't have one, then ask about the Editor or Assignment Editor that covers health care issues.

- Target several contacts at the same outlet. While health care reporters may be your most reliable contacts, Editors or Assignment Editors usually decide who covers what, and which stories deserve attention, so you should contact both.

- Update your lists regularly. You should make sure you're reaching the appropriate contact person. Staff turnover is sometimes high, so update your lists often.

Writing Press Releases

Effective media work requires that you establish relationships with reporters, provide clear, newsworthy information and are flexible with your availability. The following tips can help you ensure good media coverage of a U2K event.

- Write the press release in a simple, clear style. In the first paragraph, include the main details of the event - what, when, where, who - and overall importance - why.

- Stress the newsworthiness of the event. Reporters cover issues because of new developments that interest readers. Reporters are more likely to cover town hall meetings than statements supporting universal health care, for instance.

- Include short, pithy quotes from spokespeople. Reporters will not respond to a page full of text or jargon, but respond readily to sound bites and statements.

- Include reliable contact information. Reporters will often call for more information about the story, and you should list day and evening phone numbers, as well as the organization names. Often, a short description of the organization's mission, listed at the bottom of the press release, helps to lend credibility.

- Be available. Return phone calls promptly. If reporters reach another spokesperson, they probably won't bother to call you back.

- Respect their time. Reporters are often on deadline. Always ask if they have a minute to talk to you. The best time to call reporters is between 10 AM and 3 PM. After 3 PM they are on deadline, and may not be able to talk to you.

- Build relationships. Even if your event does not receive coverage, call the reporter periodically with news tips, or to offer yourself as a source for health care stories. When a reporter knows you, he or she may call you first on a list of contacts.

Interview Tips

When a media outlet picks up your story, following a few simple interview tips will help to maximize the likelihood that a media outlet will print or air your interview.

- Consider your audience. Who are you trying to reach with this information? Target your message to your audience.

- Think about message. What are you trying to convey about the U2K Campaign? What are your goals, and how can you succinctly tell this to your audience?

- Build your credibility. Share your credentials and accomplishments,

and note supporters of the U2K Campaign, including major


- Move people to action. Motivate listeners, and then provide them with concrete ways they can become involved in the U2K Campaign.

- Be positive. Win on the merits of the U2K Campaign, not on slamming our opponents. Don't be cynical, but rather give people tools they need to get involved.



We wish to acknowledge the following publications, organizations and individuals  


U2K Home | Search | Site Map | About U2K | Join U2K | U2K Newsletters | Resources and Materials | Endorsers |Faith_Communities | Related_Campaigns | FAQ's | Calendar | Contact Us

U2K Campaign
2800 Euclid Ave., Suite 520 Cleveland OH 44115-2418         
Tel: 216/902-5577  Fax: 216/241-8423

U2K questions: uhcan@uhcan.org                Website questions u2kwebmaster@loebigink.com