Part of our strategy in “Closing the Coverage Gap” has been to get city, county, hospital, judicatory, faith and/or other organizations to pass resolutions calling on the General Assembly to close the coverage gap to ensure that all Virginians have access to comprehensive healthcare. Here is a tutorial of how you might approach that goal:
Getting supportive resolutions adopted can help push an issue forward at the state level by showing a senator or delegate that the people they represent are aware of and favorable towards a particular position. As they say, all politics is local and each community has its own approach to getting things accomplished and who the official and unofficial “powerbrokers” are.
Therefore, the following are to be general guidelines but it is important to understand the idiosyncrasies of your locality. Late summer and the fall are good times to try to get a resolution adopted, since the local budget season is over and local governing bodies will have more time for education on an issue and to consider a resolution.
1. Build a group or coalition of local people who are interested in the issue. Include members of the Virginia Interfaith Center’s chapters, faith communities, Healthcare for All Virginians coalition organizations and their members, and others committed to similar values. Agree upon resolution language to be used and ensure locally specific numbers/facts are included, if possible. (A draft is available at www.virginiainterfaithcenter.org.)
2. Meet, as appropriate, with the executive board of the NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, state and local chapters, community organizations, unions, colleges, area hospitals and healthcare providers to get their support.
3. Identify the City Council or Board of Supervisor members who are most likely to be supportive. Meet with that person(s) to develop the best strategy for resolution adoption. What other members should be approached for support and when? Depending on his/her support, influence and tenure, sometimes you may want to approach the mayor or county administrator to ask him/her for support and/or assistance.
4. Meet with all members of the Council or Board, if possible, to educate them on the issue. Ask your local or Council/Board champion(s) to be at the meetings. Ask for their support and address any objections they might have. If they cannot support the resolution, ask if they will abstain from the vote.
5. Have coalition members write letters to the editor of the local newspaper and continue to build support among organizations in the community in the several weeks leading up to the resolution’s consideration. Meet with the press to educate them on issue.
6. Ask your Council/Board/Administrator champion to put the issue on the agenda. Confirm the date it will come up on the agenda.
7. Recruit plenty of supporters in the room when the resolution is considered. Ask someone or several local people, who are directly affected, as well as the area hospital and health care providers, to speak at the meeting. Invite the press to be there.
8. Send thank you notes to the Council/Board/Administrator members. Follow up on any opposition if unsuccessful in order to prepare for another opportunity in the coming year. Celebrate if successful.