LeadingAge Magazine · January-February 2017 • Volume 07 • Number 01

Now that the elections are over, providers of aging services want to know how the new Administration and a new Congress will affect America’s seniors.

As not-for-profit providers of senior services committed to improving the lives of older adults, we must continue our nonpartisan advocacy to educate policymakers, especially the newly elected ones, about our issues.

There are 7 new members of the U.S. Senate and 56 new members of the U.S. House of Representatives. It will be up to all of us to educate them so they can make informed decisions when considering legislation or policies that impact seniors.

Here are a few issues to discuss with lawmakers that impact seniors’ daily lives:

  • The new Administration and new Congress are considering proposals to restructure Medicare and Medicaid, further challenging the services that rely heavily on these programs.
  • They are also considering reducing spending on programs vulnerable seniors depend on, such as affordable housing, Meals on Wheels, non-emergency medical transportation and more.
  • Innovative provisions within the Affordable Care Act should be protected to maintain and improve access to long-term services and supports for older adults.

 

Hosting Members of Congress

One of the most successful ways to engage with lawmakers is to invite them to your community. This is an opportunity for them to learn the value of affordable senior housing, how nursing homes are staffed, how treatments are delivered, and many other services that seniors need on a daily basis. They also have a chance to meet directly with residents and listen to their concerns.

If you are interested in hosting lawmakers at your communities, LeadingAge staff is available to assist you. Contact Marsha Padilla-Goad at 202-508-9442 or mpadilla-goad@leadingage.org.

We’ve also put together a Hosting Lawmakers at Your Community toolkit to help guide you through the planning process.

 

Advocacy Activities

Other advocacy efforts you may consider include:

  • Meeting with lawmakers in their district office. During recesses, lawmakers dedicate time to work in their district offices. Contact your member of Congress’ scheduler and find a day and time for your organization’s leaders, and maybe a few residents, to meet with your representative.
  • Contacting them by phone and email. You can reach your lawmaker via the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or look up his or her contact information directly at www.house.gov or www.senate.gov.
  • Attending a town hall or constituent meeting. Lawmakers usually schedule gatherings with their constituents to chat about a wide range of topics that are of interest to their voters. This is an opportunity to raise concerns and educate lawmakers on critical issues.

Without hearing directly from service providers and the seniors they serve, lawmakers won’t understand how their actions on these matters can have either a negative or positive impact on the senior population.

How will you take action?

Marsha Padilla-Goad is director, grassroots and member engagement for LeadingAge. Contact her at mpadilla-goad@leadingage.org or 202-508-9442.