Unofficial Transplant Week on Capitol Hill as Congressional Leaders Introduce two AST Supported Bills
Last week was a big week for organ transplantation on Capitol Hill. On the heels of President Obama's State of the union address, leaders from both parties in the House and Senate introduced the:
- HIV Organ Policy Equity (HOPE) Act (S. 330 and H.R. 698) - Introduced by Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA) and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Rand Paul (R-KY). The bill seeks to lift the current law ban and establish a research protocol to determine the effectiveness of HIV positive-to-positive transplants, and to ensure the safety of the existing transplant system.
- Comprehensive Immunosuppressive Drug Coverage for Kidney Transplant Patients Act (S. 323) - Introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Thad Cochran (R-Miss). The bill proposes to eliminate the current arbitrary 36-month limit on immunosuppressive drug coverage imposed on Medicare end stage renal disease (ESRD) beneficiaries.
Both bills possess bipartisan and bicameral support. In theory these legislative proposals should have a better than average chance of reaching the President's desk during the 113th Congress. Yes, we have watched over the last decade as many non controversial "white hat" policy proposals have fallen short of final passage. Regardless, AST continues to fight the good fight and will look for any and all opportunities to work with our friends in Congress to advance the gift-of-life for patients and their families. In addition to legislation, the Society continues to work a robust regulatory and Federal Agency route with initiatives before HHS, FDA, NIH, CMS and HRSA. I look forward to updating you on these initiatives in a future blog.
What Can I Do Today?
Although AST's Government Relations office and senior Society leaders are on Capitol Hill regularly meeting with Members of Congress and their staff, it is essential that our nation's elected officials hear directly from you.
Please take a moment to:
- Call the U.S. Capitol Switch Board (202) 224-3121;
- Ask to be connected to the offices of your Members of Congress (1 House and 2 Senate members);
- Once connected, ask to speak with the Health Care Legislative Assistant;
- Tell the Health Care Legislative Assistant that you are a transplant professional working in the district/state and would appreciate it if their boss would consider co-sponsoring the HOPE Act (S. 330 and H.R. 698) and the Immuno Drug Coverage for Kidney Patients Act (S. 323).
Thank you for all you do! AST's strongest asset continues to be our membership!