2012 Election Results: What They Mean for YOU
After what feels like an eternity of partisan campaigning among elected officials at all levels, the 2012 election cycle has finally ended. President Obama has won a second term in office, Democrats and Republicans maintained their majority's in the Senate and House, respectively. And after weeks of policy paralysis leading up to the election, Congress returns to Capitol Hill this week for its “Lame Duck” session and must quickly act to avoid the fiscal cliff. In addition to our very important transplant legislative and regulatory agenda, AST has also independently and in coalition with other organizations educated targeted Congressional leaders regarding the devastating impact that “sequestration” would have on medical research.
But what do these election results really mean for us as scientists, clinicians, advocates of transplantation and overall as a society? In reality, our public policy agenda has never depended on which party controls the White House, Congress or even the State Capitols. Our continual efforts to cultivate bipartisan and bicameral friends at all levels of government have served us well. We maintain champions on both sides of the aisle.
And we will continue to fight the fight-for our patients, their donors, our hospitals and labs! Before the final gavel falls on the 2012 Session of Congress, AST will keep advocating for the Immuno Bill, including an open letter to Congress in The Hill newspaper today, calling on our representatives to push for final action. On a daily basis, we continue to advocate with Congress and other government agencies on key issues that have a direct impact on our practice and our patients. To summarize it has been a busy summer and fall:
Final HHS PHS Guidelines for Infectious Disease and Transplantation
AST has had several discussions with HHS, HRSA and CDC regarding these guidelines. While the final guideline has not yet been released, it is our hope that this input will be taken into consideration in order to avoid any unintended consequences for the practice of transplantation.
New SSA Social Security Death Master File (SSDMF) Privacy Rules
AST has been working very closely with HHS, HRSA, CMS and SSA to assist in developing a solution (regulatory or legislative) to new rules that would significantly restrict access for transplantation to SSDMF data. The negative repercussions for both clinical and research transplantation are far-yielding.
FDA and Immunosuppressive Generics Issues
Last month, AST and ASTS leaders traveled to FDA headquarters in Silver Spring, MD to meet with key Agency leaders regarding generic immunosuppression. This is an important and ongoing dialogue that we’ll continue to evolve.
Living Donor Bill of Rights Legislation
Congressional offices on Capitol Hill have been working with AST and the transplant community to develop a living donor “Bill of Rights" that will likely result in new legislation being introduced in the first quarter of 2013.
NIH Funding for 2013-2014
The Society has been working with Congressional Appropriators and the research community in support of increased NIH resources and the importance of averting the “sequestration” cuts that would have devastating consequences for research. At present, our AST Research Community of Practice (CoP) is developing educational advocacy materials for the new Congress, focused on illustrating the history, success and future of transplant research.
The issues of workforce and physician supply will be receiving great attention in the new Congress, so Capitol Hill has asked AST to discuss the direction and likely future supply of transplant physicians. We’re compiling data to support necessary policy changes that will ensure adequate supply of transplant providers in the future.
We might be working with a Lame Duck Congress for the next few weeks, but we’re certainly not approaching our Capitol Hill initiatives with a lame duck mentality. And when the 90 first-time Members of Congress are sworn in this January, AST will be ready – and again accepting the challenges of a new Congress to add to the growing cadre of transplant Hill champions and to advance the field of transplantation with our continued voice and seat at all public policy tables.