AST Government Relations continues breakneck pace to shape transplant initiatives on Capitol Hill within HHS in fast start to 2012.
During the last 6 weeks, AST government relations lobbyists and Society leaders have been exerting significant political pressure on HHS and Congress on multiple fronts. We have met with HHS Assistant Secretary for Health, Dr. Howard Koh, and most of his senior leadership team for in-person meetings and conference calls to resolve the Society's significant concersn with the HHS Draft Guideline for Reducing Transmission of HIV, HBV, and HCV through Solid Organ Transplantation.
This direct access has included working with CDC leaders, Under Secretaries for Infectious Disease, and many others to ensure a positive outcome. These political and government relations efforts are paying off as we are making a lot of progress. We also have a meeting that is being finalized in the next couple of weeks with CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden to further advance our positions. Similar to last year's AST battle to preserve transplant coverage in the State of Arizona, this began as a very steep uphill battle that is now moving in a positive direction through the advocacy efforts of all involved within AST.
TRANSPLANT PATIENT LEGISLATION
Congress is back in the nation's capitol this week and we have been on the Hill since yesterday's meeting with House and Senate leaders where we left off in December to advance the "Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Act." We are also making significant progress in this arena and are getting the bill ready for attachment to a larger "must-pass" vehicles this session of Congress. Senators Reid, Schumer, Cochran, Durbin and others have expressed strong bipartisan support for the bills, as have Congressmen Burgess, Kind, Stark, Camp and other key leaders. It is now coming down to tactics and opportunity to get the bill passed.
AST EXPLORING OPPORTUNITIES WITH ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
AST Public Policy Chair, Dr. David Cohen and the Society's lobbying team met recently with Dr. Martha Kanter, Under Secretary for the Department of Education (DOE). This effort is one of many where AST is branching out beyond HHS to touch multiple Federal Agency senior decision-makers regarding opportunities to collaborate on transplant and organ donation initiatives. The DOE meeting was very successful and resulted in a variety of suggested initiatives and opportunities to work closely with the Department of Education. We are also examining other Agencies including Department of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury IRS, and others.
TRANSPLANT LOBBYING COALITION MEETING TODAY IN WASHINGTON, DC
Today, AST and the Transplant Roundtable, comprised of approximately 20 transplant stakeholder organizations, are meeting to discuss a wide range of transplant public policy, priorities and concerns for this 2012 session of Congress. For a glimpse into specific topics and conversations that will be discussed, see below:
TRANSPLANT ROUNDTABLE MEETING
Wednesday Jan. 18, 2012
Lobbyist Strategy Session
I. Brief review of UNOS data
II. Congressional Issues
a. Immunosuppressive drug coverage extension legislation
b. FY '12 & '13 Budget/ Approps - HRSA Div. of Transplantation
c. New living donor proposals - Medicare/HRSA lost wages funding (UNOS)
d. FMLA and guaranteed leave for organ donation
e. Tax credits for living donor expenses (HR 2755 - Kissell)
f. Insurance coverage for live donors
g. Organ and tissue donor registry center (HR 3514 - Clay)
h. Kidney Caucus and potential events
i. Congressional Organ & Tissue Caucus and potential events
III. Regulatory Issues
a. Health reform - definition of "essential health benefits"
b. Vascularized composite allografts - HRSA v. FDA Oversight
IV. State Issues - Medicaid
V. Review final 2012 action plan and priorities
The American Society of Transplantation is an international organization of professionals dedicated to advancing the field of transplantation and improving patient care by promoting research, education, advocacy, and organ donation.