We encourage you to meet with your legislators in person to discuss the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA). Meetings are a great way for them to get to know you and create a relationship. We pulled together some tips to help you:
If you attend Day on the Hill, we will schedule your advocacy meetings for you.
Set Up an Advocacy Meeting
To set up a meeting with your legislators at home, send them an email or letter. We outline what to include in your message when you ask for a meeting below.
Put Together Your Story Or Letter
Review our sample letters to get an idea of the form and opportunities to personalize the letter.
- First, introduce yourself and the reason you are writing. Request a meeting to discuss the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA).
- Next, share your story with ectodermal dysplasias or the congenital anomaly that affects you. Include information about your dental care, whether or not your health insurance covered it and what you have spent out of pocket. Here’s a sample of one family’s personal story:
My name is Aidan, I am 13 years old and live in Slinger, WI. I have a rare disease called ectodermal dysplasias, which causes me to overheat easily due to issues with my sweat glands, my skin is very sensitive and I am missing many of my teeth. I have had many issues with chewing food properly, and have had to go through many unnecessary medical procedures, including swallowing studies and an endoscopy, all because of missing so many teeth. It also took over three years of speech therapy to be able to speak clearly and make it possible for my family, classmates, and teachers to understand me.
- Copy and paste text from the sample letters about ELSA and why it is needed. Repeat your request for a meeting and provide your contact information so they have a way to reach you.
- Use our directory to look up your legislator’s contact information and send your email or letter requesting a meeting.
Read additional tips for how to tell your advocacy story.
When you have sent your letter, follow-up within a week with a phone call to request a meeting. Introduce yourself, explain that you had sent a letter and request to meet with your senator or representative to discuss the the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA).
Once you have a set meeting date and time, contact Becky on our staff to let us know about your meeting. She can provide support and answer any questions you may have.
You might want to engage with your member of Congress on their social media. Post that you are looking forward to meeting with them to discuss ectodermal dysplasias and the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act.
Meet With Your Members of Congress
As you prepare for your upcoming meeting, we pulled together some tips to help you know what to expect and who you will meet on Capitol Hill or at the local office.
Legislator Staff and Aides
You may not meet with your legislators. Instead, you’ll likely meet with a member of their staff. When contacting your legislators, you can even ask for the senior health staffer or health aide. These staffers are typically very knowledgeable on health and insurance issues. They’re just as important to meet as legislators and will usually be the point of contact for any follow-up meetings or correspondence.
What to Cover
Meetings are usually between 15-20 minutes long.
- Briefly explain ectodermal dysplasia and that it is a congenital anomaly.
- Focus on the many problems with the teeth.
- Tell them your health insurance coverage problems.
- Explain that most states already have laws that provide insurance benefits for congenital anomalies. Yet, insurance companies routinely auto-deny benefits for teeth.
- Most importantly, tell them about the need for the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act that will mandate health insurance coverage for teeth and the bone that holds teeth resulting from a congenital anomaly.
Relax and enjoy your time sharing your story. Legislators want to know the needs of their constituents.
What to Bring
Take copies of the letter with your personal story to the meeting. You’ll want to have one to give to each of the legislators in the meeting. Be sure to include your family’s contact information on your personal story letter so staff can follow up after the meeting. Take copies of our advocacy resource flyers.
Bring your phone or camera and ask your legislators for a picture after your meeting. They are usually willing and happy to take pictures with their constituents.
Ask for a Business Card
Ask the legislator or staffer you meet with for their business card. You will need their contact information to follow up with them after your meeting.
Be sure to thank each legislator and their staff for taking time to meet with you.
Follow-Up After the Meeting
While your meeting is now over, your relationship with the legislator is just beginning. Here are some ideas for how to nurture that relationship. Legislators are more likely to take interest when they know you and how the legislation could impact your life.
Post to Social Media
Post a photo of your meeting to your social media accounts along with our hashtags #teetharenotcosmetic and #ELSA. Tag the legislator.
Send a Follow-Up Letter or Email
You will want to thank your legislators and their staff for meeting with you by sending them a note or email. Ask them to follow up with you with any information they may have after your meeting.
Keep in Touch
We encourage you to email and call your legislators on a regular basis, such as each month. Building this relationship will be important in getting the legislator interested in you and the cause. You can email them with an update on how the bill is or is not progressing. Share with them any treatment updates from your family and whether or not insurance provided benefits. Provide facts about ectodermal dysplasias.