The Author

Joachim Zuther, Lymphedema Specialist. Read more
Lohmann Rauscher
MediUSA

Tactile Medical

More Updates on H.R. 4662 – the Lymphedema Treatment Act

Dear Members of the Lymphedema Community:

I received a letter from Heather Ferguson, the young mom from North Carolina who was instrumental in securing the coverage for treatment of Lymphedema in North Carolina. I would like to share this letter with you below; it answers a lot of questions you may have in regard to your support for this extremely important bill.

Here is Heather’s letter:

Welcome long time HR 4662 supporters and newcomers!

I am pleased to report that due to my attendance at last month’s National Lymphedema Network conference and the simultaneous completion of the website the number of people requesting to receive these updates has increased dramatically.  My contact list grows daily and currently there are over 400 direct recipients, with many more reached by forwards, blog posts, etc.
But remember that although our numbers are growing results will only ensue when you follow through with action!
I hope you have all had a chance to thoroughly explore http://www.lymphedematreatmentact.org/and that you are actively supporting the cause by following the steps outlined on the GET INVOLVED page.  With this update I will share with you the answers to the most frequent questions I receive regarding contacting House members and the process in general.  Please never hesitate to contact me if you need clarification on anything, have concerns or other questions.

Sincerely,

Heather Ferguson
hmff@earthlink.net

FAQ regarding HR 4662 and your letters to Congress

1.)    How many cosponsors do we need?  There is no magic number but the greater our number of cosponsors the greater our chances of success.

2.)    Is there a deadline?  None at the present time.  We can collect cosponsors until our bill is heard by the Heath Subcommittee, but our bill likely won’t be scheduled for hearing until we have more cosponsors.

3.)    What if I have contacted my Congressperson and gotten no response?  You should wait two to three weeks and then try again, and keep doing so until you do get a response.  I have found it effective to always put your new email on top of your old one as a reminder that you have been waiting for their reply.  From my experience an office often won’t reply to me the first time but will do so promptly after the second try.  Persistence is the key!

4.)    What if I have gotten a reply but they still haven’t cosponsored?  In most cases like this you are getting a form letter of sorts and they haven’t really taken a look at the issue or the legislation yet.  Make them realize you are not giving up easily.  You need to respond asking for the specific reasons that they have not yet chosen to cosponsor and asking if they need more information.  I am happy to help you craft your reply if you contact me.  But again, it basically comes down to persistence.

5.)    What if my Congressperson is already a cosponsor OR what if I have done everything possible and they still are not?  I have found that once an office truly gives HR 4662 consideration there is a good chance they will cosponsor, but some are just hopeless.  So whether your Congressperson has already been won over or is not going to be simply move on to the suggestions at question six.

6.)    Is there anything else I can do to help regarding gathering cosponsors?  In addition to contacting your own member of Congress you could contact all members in your state and all Health Subcommittees members, who at the present time hold the fate of our bill in their hands.  Health Subcommittee members are denoted by their names being in bold font at the “current members of Congress with email addresses” link on the GET INVOLVED page at www.LymphedemaTreatmentAct.org.  You can use the same letter you send your own member of Congress but just remove anything about you being a constituent.

7.)    What happens at the end of the year?  Our bill will be reintroduced at the start of the next Congress in January of 2011.  The bill number will change and we will simply pick up where we left off.  It is pretty much a given that any member of Congress who is re-elected will again sign on as a cosponsor, and Congressman Kissell’s office will handle asking that they do so.  Our work will be to continue winning over those who had not yet cosponsored or who are newly elected to Congress.

8.)    What is the overall timeframe we are looking at?  Nothing at the federal level happens quickly.  The absolute best case scenario would be getting the bill through both the House and Senate and passed in to law by the end of the next two year cycle of Congress.  I am an optimist and very determined to do anything and everything in my power to make that happen, but the reality is that it could also take a good deal longer.  Again, persistence and the hard work of many at the grass roots level will be our key to success!

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