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Saving Lives through Transplantation: A Truly Bipartisan Issue

Every few years, AST leadership has the privilege of hosting an awards ceremony to recognize those members of Congress who support and promote the field of transplantation on behalf of our patients. This year, I attended this event along with members of AST’s Public Policy Committee, and I was able to thank several congressmen and senators personally for their work in this space. As a first time attendee to an event of this type, I was impressed by not only the turnout, but by the knowledge and passion of the legislators and their staffers regarding transplant issues. The day following the ceremony, we were able to visit key congressmen, senators, and their staffers to discuss strategies to advance legislation that needs bipartisan support. As Dr. Mannon reiterates in her blog post, it is an honor to work with these champions throughout the year to advance the field and protect our patients.

Saving Lives through Transplantation: A Truly Bipartisan Issue

Roslyn B. Mannon, MD, University of Alabama, Birmingham – Chair of the AST Public Policy Committee

Advocacy is a key component to the mission of the American Society of Transplantation. The AST Public Policy Committee meets regularly to discuss key legislative issues as well as regulatory concerns and federal support for transplant investigation. This past week, AST committee members and board members attended a unique recognition ceremony for our Capitol Hill champions in transplantation.

The Congressional Leadership Awards Ceremony was held on March 18, 2015 in the Rayburn Building's Energy and Commerce Committee Room – the committee with jurisdiction over most legislation of importance to the AST. Here, AST leadership recognized the efforts of two members of the Senate and seventeen members of the House of Representatives who have supported key legislation and advocated for appropriations supporting transplantation. These include supporting bills on living donation, NIH funding, the Medicare Part D 6 protected classes that include transplant medications, avoiding penalties for hospital readmissions following solid organ transplantation, the immunosuppressive drug coverage act, and the newly developed 21st Century Cures bill to transform the FDA.

Additionally, many of the representatives serve on congressional subcommittees that oversee policy for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

These key leaders that received awards were:
• Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX), Chairman of the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee with jurisdiction over HHS, CMS, and the Medicare Program,
• Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), Deputy Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate,
• Congressman Lacy Clay (R-MO), Senior Leader of the Congressional Black Caucus,
• Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee,
• Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-KS), Chairman of the House Appropriations FDA Subcommittee,
• Congressman Michael Burgess (R-TX), Co-Chairman of the Congressional Doctor's Caucus,
• Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), Chairman of the House Budget Committee,
• Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee,
• Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Congressional Nurse's Caucus,
• Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Ranking Democratic Member of the E&C Health Subcommittee,
• Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Co-Founder of the Congressional Bipartisan United Solutions Caucus seeking common sense approaches to public policy, and
• Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC), Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), three senior members of the Women's Congressional Caucus.

On Thursday, AST leaders traveled back to Capitol Hill to meet with a variety of senior Senate and House committee staff to discuss possible strategies for advancing patient-focused transplant legislation during the 114th Congress.

While we are often discouraged by the infighting, lack of consensus, and often seeming lack of progress in government, it was wonderful to hear from these leaders as they accepted their awards. They reminded us that they have indefatigable commitment to solid organ transplantation, to improving the lives of our patients, and to advancing the field to its limits.

Senator Durbin (D-IL) Senator Durbin (D-IL) accepts his award from Dr. Michael Ison

Congressman Burgess, M.D. (R-TX) and Dr. Larry Melton Dr. Larry Melton and Congressman Burgess, MD (R-TX)

Luke Preczewski and Congressman Swalwell (D-CA) Luke Preczewski and Congressman Swalwell (D-CA)

Dr. Rita Alloway with Congressman Renacci (R-OH) Dr. Rita Alloway presents Congressman Renacci (R-OH) with his award

Congressman Clay (D-MO) Congressman Clay (D-MO)

Congresswoman Capps (D-CA) Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA)

Congresswoman Ellmers (R-NC) Congresswoman Ellmers (R-NC)

Congressman Kind (D-WI) and Dr. Anil Chandraker Congressman Kind (D-WI) and Dr. Anil Chandraker

Congressman Peters (D-CA) and Dr. Ken Newell Dr. Ken Newell and Congressman Peters (D-CA)

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