This guide has been adapted from the Western Mass. Medicare for All LTE Guide.
Effective letters to the editors of local newspapers are short and focused. Limits on the number of words that will be accepted in a letter vary - please check with your paper. A typical letter is about 250 words. Much longer or shorter than the recommendation, and you are likely not to be published. We offer some suggestions below in a 3-paragraph letter template. The content of each paragraph is to be adapted to your lived experience, communication style, and creative inspiration.
There is one thing I can not emphasize enough about a successful letter to the editor - your personal experience, not a regurgitation of facts and figures, makes a compelling read. Good luck!
SUGGESTED TEMPLATE FOR YOUR INSPIRATION
Voters in our district, 8th Hampden, voted this November to ask our State House Rep. Shirley Arriaga to support the Massachusetts Medicare for All bill. Question 5, which is non-binding, passed with 58% in support. **If newly-elected, you can mention the Rep is incoming
Present your perspective of the current health care crisis. Some examples:
> I am retired with limited health insurance coverage. As with many older individuals with chronic conditions, I constantly struggle to choose between the care recommended by physicians and other necessary expenses. Every year, I spend thousands of dollars on deductibles and drugs not covered by my insurance. Every day I live with the stress of knowing that a serious illness or accident can send me to bankruptcy.
> Like many owners of small businesses, I am caught between a rock and a hard place. The constant increase in the cost of health insurance premiums makes it unaffordable to provide health insurance to all my employees and their families. The constant worrying of potential workers about their health care coverage during a global pandemic makes it difficult to recruit and keep them in a job without health insurance. I believe this is one reason many small businesses cannot find all the workers they need at the present time.
> As a health worker, I have spent many years listening to patients’ worries about the costs of medical insurance, deductibles, medications, and devices. Our current health care system is outrageously expensive and is crushing many patients who do not even have access to basic primary care. The United States has some of the highest health care costs in the world, and Massachusetts has some of the highest health care costs in the country. Most recently, some of my patients are asking why health care costs are skyrocketing when many medical encounters are conducted through telemedicine and other low-cost intervention strategies. Are the health insurance companies returning their profits to the patients?
Explain the bill as the solution. Provide examples, data, and other evidence to support the importance of the bill to help people maintain their health and economic status and live longer. Additional information about the bill is at Western Mass. Medicare for All and Mass-Care.
> Legislators can bring some relief to patients’ out-of-pocket burden by passing An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts. This bill creates the Massachusetts Health Care Trust Fund that ensures universal coverage and eliminates premiums, deductibles, co-pays, etc., for all medically necessary care, from seeing doctors of your choice to hospitalization, from essential care for dental, vision, hearing, mental health, and substance abuse to prescription drugs and devices.
> Massachusetts can become, once again, a pioneer in health care insurance. An Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts will make health care a universal human right for all residents. It would eliminate out-of-pocket costs, like premiums, co-pays, and deductibles. The current COVID-19 pandemic proves how desperately we need to have a universal health care system that places people’s health and well-being before profits.
> S.766/H.1267 (an Act Establishing Medicare for All in Massachusetts), which will be reintroduced in the upcoming legislative session, provides a solution: the establishment of a Massachusetts Health Care Trust to pay our medical bills. Its funding will come from existing health care dollars (Medicare, Medicaid, other government health care spending) plus an employer payroll tax (7.5%; 8% on employers of 100+), employee payroll tax (2.5%, which employer could pay in whole or in part), and 10% tax on self-employed payroll and unearned income, after a $20,000 exemption for each tax.
Third paragraph: Indicate support for the Rep’s cosponsorship.
> 8th Hampden is one of 20 districts all across the state that voted and passed this question. Voters have spoken on this issue. We are excited about the election of Rep. Arriaga and look forward to her cosponsorship of this bill!
> Massachusetts can lead the way on Medicare for All. The legislature has the full backing of voters across the Commonwealth to proceed with the single-payer bill. Rep. Arriaga can lead the way by cosponsoring the bill!
Instructions for Submission
Feel free to email email@example.com for a proofread or review of your letter! Otherwise:
- Publication timeline: Some newspapers may take a couple of weeks to print a letter. We had to wait a while for official results, so the election is a few weeks behind us now; submit it as soon as you can.
- Submission instructions: Many local newspapers have their specific instructions and word-count requirements for submitting letters to the editor on their website. Sometimes, there are forms to fill out and instructions on how to send your letter by email. Most publications will accept letters by postal mail. We have a table of newspapers here with some of the contact info, but not all (so please send additions and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Your LTE will count: Often, newspapers will only print one or two letters on the same subject in a short period. There may be several letters on the BQ received by some publications. Don’t be discouraged if your letter does not get published; if someone’s letter on the subject appears in that outlet, we’ve met our goal. Regardless of publication, your letter sends a message to the editor that M4A is an important issue in the community and helps ensure we get the maximum coverage in districts where the BQ is running. Every letter submitted contributes to our long-term goal. Thank you for your support!
- Let us know. Please BCC email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org when you submit or send us a copy. Thanks! If you have questions or suggestions, please contact email@example.com