Legislative Guidelines

Organizing Your Advocacy Efforts

HASC has successfully implemented several strategies to influence, raise awareness and educate federal and state decision-makers on key health care-related issues. This information offers some basic guidance for getting started and establishing an organized advocacy effort for your facility.

Getting Started

Effective representation is an important part of organizing your efforts. Pick a legislative deputy, or represenatative who is: 

  • Willing to become politically active on your behalf
  • Interested in and enthusiastic about health issues and political affairs
  • Able to communicate ideas effectively

Suggested Activities for Effective Involvement

Effective advocacy centers on communication–both receiving information and disseminating it. Here are some suggested ways to stay effectively involved.

Education and Communication on Health Issues

Approximate time commitment: 2 hours per month
  • Become familiar with names and background of the legislators representing the hospital’s district(s).
  • Follow news accounts of your legislators as well as bills and budgets that affect health care; consult HASC and the HASC web site for background and details as needed.
  • Inform hospital leadership about legislative issues that may affect your hospital or health care delivery in your community.
  • Advocate for developing contacts and relationships between hospital and legislative leaders.

Legislative ALERTS

Approximate time commitment: ½ to 3 hours per ALERT; 3 to 6 ALERTS per year
  • Be the designated recipient of CHA-generated legislative ALERTs; read packet promptly and be prepared to respond within 24 to 48 hours of receipt. Call CHA or HASC staff for clarification of any issues.
  • Coordinate ALERT response in accordance with the instructions provided. Modify and adapt the communication provided and give specific examples and financial impact of the bill/issue on the hospital and/or patients in the community.
  • Complete and return the ALERT response form, which is used by HASC and CHA lobbyists to analyze support for issues, to know the type of communication between legislator and constituent, and to determine the effectiveness of the ALERT system.

Legislative Visits

Approximate time commitment: 8 hours per year
  • Over time, develop relations with state Assembly member, state Senator, member of Congress, County Supervisor and staff of legislators representing the district(s) in which the hospital is located.
  • Coordinate a minimum of one visit per year, preferably at your office or alternatively in the legislator’s office.
  • Invite key leaders from your hospital, and, if appropriate, other health care providers in the district. Call on HASC to assist in arrangements, agenda and issues management.
  • Report to HASC any visits or contacts with a legislator; this is vital to follow-up lobbying efforts.


Approximate time commitment: 10 to15 hours per year
  • Order campaign coordinator kit and campaign materials from HASC or CHA (also available on the CHA web site).
  • Become familiar with the legal guidelines contained in the kit.
  • Draft letters and hold meetings according to the guidelines.
  • Send checks to HASC or CHA.
  • Celebrate when you reach your goal.

Addressing a Public Official

You may want to write a letter to your Congressional representative or speak at your local city council meeting. In the tradition of U.S. politics, there are some general rules for addressing government officials.

Written salutations


The Honorable (full name)
Governor, State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor (last name):

State Senator

The Honorable (full name)
California Senate
State Capitol (room number)
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Senator (last name):

United States Representative

The Honorable (full name)
U.S. House of Representatives
House Office Building (name and room number)
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (last name): or
Dear Representative (last name):

County Supervisor

The Honorable Supervisor (full name)
Hall of Administration (room number)

Dear Supervisor (last name):


The Honorable (full name)
Mayor of (city)
City Hall

Dear Mayor (last name):

Letter Writing Techniques

Personal letters are the basic tool for contacting legislators at critical stages of the legislative process. Letters are used to directly express your views on a given issue. Emails and faxes are particularly useful when timing becomes crucial on the action of a bill. When writing to a lawmaker about a legislative issue, the following guidelines will make your letters more effective.

Writing Tips

  • Be brief—Limit your letter to a discussion of one bill.
  • Be specific—Identify the subject clearly and always use the bill number and author.
  • Be direct—Explain how the issue affects your organization, employees, patients and the community.
  • Take a position—Ask for your legislator’s support or opposition.
  • Consider timing—It is imperative that you convey your position on a bill before a committee or floor vote. Use faxes, e-mail or telegrams, if necessary.
  • Be distinct—Avoid copying background papers or form letters verbatim.

Send copies of your correspondence to HASC so that staff can convey members’ vital interests in a particular bill to CHA lobbyists.


  • When responding to an Alert or writing a letter to oppose a legislator’s position on a given issue, thank the legislator for addressing the problem or issue, then cite your differences and reasons for disagreement.
  • Keep all communications friendly and respectful.
  • Use letterhead and personal stationery.
  • Check for misspelled names.
  • Ask for written replies and statements of legislators’ position.
  • Give feedback to HASC or CHA staff listed as the contact person on the Alert.
  • After a favorable vote, write a brief note to your legislators thanking them for support.