Shop for a Cause PreemiesOh, March of Dimes! You drew me in with your all-preemies, all-the-time Shop for a Cause fundraising event on August 27, and now I find myself reading up on The Preemie Act and how I can help it get renewed? You clever, clever charity, you!

I hooked you, didn’t I? Yep, if you’ve got a soft spot for premature babies -- whether you had a 30-weeker, like me, or you just have a soft spot for teeny-tiny, eeny-weeny infants -- here’s everything you need to know about supporting them.

First of all, the fun stuff:

This Saturday, August 27, Macy’s will give you 25 percent off almost everything in the store (including sale and clearance items, plus stuff that’s usually excluded -- well, except furniture, mattresses, and rugs, which are 10 percent off). All you have to do is buy a $5 savings pass, all of which goes straight to the March of Dimes. It’s terribly enabling: the more you spend, the more you save, as long as you have that one-day savings pass in your hot little hand. And it works at Macys.com, too. Oof, I love “shop for a cause.” It’s so naughty and nice.

But wait, there’s more! This is crazy to me, but I just found out that after almost three years of being preemie-obsessed, I didn’t realize there’s actually a Preemie Act that ensures funding to prevent preterm births and improve medical treatment of premature babies. It’s been around for a while, but comes up for a reauthorization vote every five years.

It’s just been introduced to both the House and the Senate for reauthorization, and it’s both bipartisan (two Democrats and two Republicans sponsoring it) and bicameral (simultaneously moving through the House and Senate). It’s not controversial. It’s not even that expensive. And since prematurity costs our health care system an estimated $26 billion each year, a penny spent is a penny earned.

Of course, there’s a whole lot of hurry-up-and-wait with this situation. It can take a year or more for the bill to make its way through subcommittees and the “markup” (or editing) process.

To stay up on its process, sign up for the March of Dimes newsletter, or take a look at it yourself. Here’s how:

Go to Thomas.gov (named after Thomas Jefferson), which lists all bills in congress.
Enter “Preemie” or bill number HR2679.
When the page comes up, click on “co-sponsors.”
If you see your member of congress, great! He or she supports this bill. If not, call and encourage them to support it!

Don’t know who your reps are? Go to House.gov and enter your zip code in the upper-right search box. You can also go to Senate.gov and use the “Find Your Senators” drop-down, also on the upper-right. So easy!

I called my state representatives this week to nag them about a health-insurance bill, and it’s seriously easy. You just have to know the number of the bill and say you support it and you hope they do, too. They don’t quiz you on it, and it does make a difference.

And of course, you’re registered to vote, right?

How do you help preemies -- by shopping or calling, or something else? Tell us in the comments! 

http://thestir.cafemom.com/baby/125007/2_great_ways_to_help