Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Support for Veterans Living with MS

Many U.S. veterans who live with multiple sclerosis (MS) could be closer to getting the care and benefits they deserve. Federal legislation proposes extending the timeframe during which veterans can gain “service-connected” status for their MS and treatment through the Veterans Health Administration. Currently there is a seven-year limitation, which doesn't account for MS symptoms that can progress or be misdiagnosed. The National MS Society this week sent a letter of support to Senator Patty Murray (WA), who sponsored the legislation, stating that we stand ready to help move the bill forward in Congress. For more information on Sen. Murray’s work on this issue, click here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

As MS activists, we are focused on ensuring accessible, affordable quality health care for people living with multiple sclerosis. But are your Senators and Representatives? Click here to help us find out. Send a quick health-related questionnaire to your Members of Congress. The National MS Society is working in partnership with Research!America to collect this important information.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Congress to Vote on New Version of Stem Cell Bill

As MS activists, it is important to continue our support of embryonic stem cell research due to the promise it holds for multiple sclerosis (MS) research. The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act (S. 5) is expected to come to a vote again in the House at the beginning of June. Your legislators will be back in their home district for the Memorial Day Recess (May 26 – June 3). That is the perfect time to visit the district office or attend a town hall meeting and ask for their support.

Click here and enter your ZIP code to get your Representative’s local office phone number. Then call to ask about upcoming events and schedule a meeting. Urge them to vote YES on the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act.

Raising a question at a local event or town hall meeting with your Member of Congress is one of the most effective methods for influencing undecided lawmakers. Now is the time to schedule an appointment. We are hopeful for a strong majority vote in the House.

The bill expands the number of embryonic stem cell lines that are eligible for federally funded research and institutes stronger ethical requirements. It was recently amended, however, to include the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act (S. 2754). This addition to the bill promotes stem cell research alternatives that do not include embryonic and is strongly supported by President Bush. That is the reason the House must vote on the bill again. Thank you for being an MS activist.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

MS Activists Rally for Support of Autoimmune Diseases

MS activists joined with other autoimmune disease patient groups today at the U.S. Capitol for the Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Rally and Health Fair. Congressmen Steven Israel (NY) and Patrick Kennedy (RI) spoke to the group. MS activist "Brave" Dave Gearing also told his story about being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at age 26. He called for making prescription drugs and mobility devices more affordable for people living with MS and other diseases.

The American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA) and The National Coalition of Autoimmune Patient Groups (NCAPG) spearheaded the event. May 2007 is National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

National MS Society Testifies on Capitol Hill for MS Research

The National MS Society testified today before the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee in support of increased funding for multiple sclerosis research. Shawn O’Neail, the Society’s associate vice president for federal government relations, provided testimony on behalf of the more than 400,000 Americans and nearly 26,000 U.S. veterans living with MS. He asked for a $15 million Defense appropriation for MS research through the Office of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). (Photo: Shawn O'Neail testifies on Capitol Hill on May 16. Photo credit: Chris Nammour)

The testimony presented compelling statistics on MS, the increased incidence of MS among veterans (see April 13 post below), and the story of one veteran living with the disease. Paul Perrone is a 42-year-old father from New Hampshire. A retired U.S. Air Force Sergeant and veteran of the Persian Gulf War, Paul was diagnosed with MS in August 1998.

This Defense appropriation could open the door to a new source of federal funding for MS research, at a time when other sources are declining, and move us closer to a world free of MS. Click here to read the complete written testimony.

Monday, May 14, 2007

13 States Get Grants for Long-Term Care Programs

Individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses in 13 states and the District of Columbia will now have more support for living at home or in the community, instead of in institutions. And Medicaid-eligible individuals will more easily get the care they need.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced it will give more than $547 million in grants over five years for the efforts to: Delaware, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The announcement is part of the CMS initiative “Money Follows the Person,” which was included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (DRA). And it is part of the administration’s New Freedom Initiative, which attempts to remove barriers for people living with disabilities or chronic illnesses who need community resources. For more information, visit

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Senate has unanimously passed a resolution declaring May as National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month. The House is currently working on a similar resolution. The resolution would help raise awareness for the under-recognized autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, that afflict 24.5 million Americans. And it would establish the goal of increasing federal funding for research into the root causes. Thanks to the MS activists who supported this resolution.

Safeguard Funding for NIH

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is losing money and momentum. An editorial in the Washington Times covered the issue today, calling the cuts "unacceptable." NIH funding works out to roughly only $44 a year per American, according to the opinion piece.

As the world's leading source of funding for MS research, NIH discoveries have led to our knowledge of the immune system, development of MS lesions, and potential genetic factors. But the decreasing investment poses a serious threat to biomedical progress and scientist retention. Adequate funding for NIH research is necessary for helping lead to better treatments and a world free of MS.

MS Activists Online and On the Move

MS activists have really been moving recently. Thanks to all of you who have taken action on many important MS issues. Congress still is considering legislation on increased funding for MS research, bio-generic drugs, stem cell research, and more. We will continue to keep you informed as these issues progress, but here are some new ways you can get involved.

National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month
A new federal resolution could establish the month of May as National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month (H. Res. 258). The resolution would help raise awareness for the under-recognized autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, that afflict 24.5 million Americans. And it would establish the goal of increasing federal funding for research into the root causes.

Collectively, autoimmune diseases are one of the top 10 leading causes of death among children and women under 65. However, less than 6 percent of Americans surveyed in a recent Roper poll could identify an autoimmune disease. Help raise awareness for autoimmune disease. Call your Representative today at 1-800-828-0498. Ask them to support May as National Autoimmune Diseases Awareness Month (H. Res. 258).

"i'm Making a Difference"
Thanks to a new relationship with Microsoft, you can support MS programs and services simply by using Windows Live Messenger. i’m is a new initiative in which Microsoft donates a portion of the program’s advertising revenue to the Society. It’s free, and it only takes a minute to download. Visit to join. Select the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as your organization when you join.