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
U2K Candidate Question
Letters to the Editor
Contacting Editorial Boards
Developing Media Lists
Writing Press Releases
Help create an energized
bloc of universal health care supporters in the next Congress.
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
2. Strengthen local health care coalitions and create new linkages with
organizations concerned about America's health care crisis;
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
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
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
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
ethnic constituency-based groups, including African-American, Hispanic and
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
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
Let your members know about U2K literature, such as the Education
Handbook, which can be ordered from the office or downloaded from
Excerpt portions of Health Care Justice NOW for your
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:
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
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
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
WHO to Approach
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.
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 youve
worked with before.
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 organizations
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
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
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
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:
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.
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.
a list of constituencies youd like to invite. Then,
match an organization with each of these constituencies. Try to invite
as broad a group as possible. Go beyond groups youve 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Engaging Candidates in the 2000
Libraries have copies (and back issues) of daily papers in your
state, and some weekly papers. Many daily newspapers also have web
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 candidates position
on universal health care.
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
the most important points,
emphasizing issues likely to be on the candidates 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
that delegation members will discuss only U2K - not their
own or their organizations views on other issues (even if the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
your approach to the candidate and
what youve 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 candidates statements on health care. You can even
ask for clarification of a statement that was made in a previous
speech or debate.
personal stories, and be passionate,
but avoid name-calling or blaming.
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.
in a spot where you can shake the candidates hand, and ask your
question then. Candidates often shake
hands with the crowd at the beginning and end of the event. Dont
let go of the candidate's hand until he or she has heard your
question and begun a response.
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
Universal Health Care 2000 Campaign
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
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:
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
brief. Stick to just a few
paragraphs. Most papers have limited space and may turn away long
letters, or if its edited, you wont have say in what they
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
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
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
- 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