Friday, March 2, 2012


Ted Thompson, JD
Vice President of Federal Government Relations

I typically do Federal Fridays the second and fourth Fridays of the month because we send out our Federal Focus to 60,000+ activists on the first Friday but given that we have our Public Policy Conference starting Monday, we aren’t sending Federal Focus so I’m taking the opportunity to send another update!

21st Annual Public Policy Conference.  This year marks the 21st year of the National MS Society Public Policy Conference (PPC) and it’s shaping up to be a terrific three days.  Next Monday it kicks off with some insider perspective by Al Eisele, founding editor of The Hill and former press secretary to Vice President Walter Mondale, and Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for the Washington Post and frequent guest on MSNBC.  In addition to learning more about our policy priorities in advance of congressional meetings being held next Wednesday, attendees will also enjoy the motivational humor of Brett Leake, honor our elected officials of the year, and learn more about our National MS Society Advocacy Hall of Fame inductees. On Tuesday, well known political scientist Larry Sabato will be speaking, no doubt providing insight on that days Super Tuesday competitions.  Read Larry’s latest Crystal Ball.

Alert – re PPC Action Alert.  Next week we will send an Action Alert to the MS Activist Network about the issues being brought to the Hill during the Public Policy Conference.  Please keep an eye out and take action when you get it – the alert will coincide with the Activist Hill visits and will magnify the message.

Blogging from PPC.  This year we will also be blogging from the PPC so if you haven’t signed up to receive blog alerts, go to MS Blog and sign up.  There will be daily updates about the conference. 

Hashtag.  Also, while at PPC, we will be encouraging people to tweet and to use the hashtag #MSActivist so you can follow the conference on twitter as well.  And if you aren’t following us yet, please do at @MSActivist.

And then there was One.  Maine Senator Olympia Snowe shocked the political establishment this week by announcing her retirement.  She was geared up for re-election with money in the bank and a campaign staff but in the end, she pulled the plug.  She represents one of the few remaining moderates in the Senate, her Maine colleague Senator Susan Collins being the other (and Mass. Sen. Scott Brown appears to be amongst the moderates).  Sen. Snowe was the only Republican to provide a vote for the health reform bill – she voted for it in Committee so it could go to the floor for full debate.  She ended up voting against the bill that passed, but understood the need to do something about the issue and wanted to allow a much fuller discussion on the Senate floor.

More Health Reform Repeal Votes?  Not if Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has a say in it.  Sen. McConnell has indicated that he doesn’t want to see any more votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act before the November elections.  Read more from The Hill.  Hold the Presses!  Today it’s reported that the Minority Leader is now vowing that March will be the ‘Repeal Obamacare’ month.  Hmm – if you’re interested, this is worth the read, again, in The Hill.

Growing Pains.  The health care industry is being pushed to become more inclusive and affordable from multiple fronts – government, consumer groups, insurers, health practitioners and others. Healthcare legislation and industry-driven initiatives are needed. As the U.S. population ages, the industry faces shortages in key areas, particularly primary-care physicians.

Health Plan Profits.  The Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that the state has the authority to limit health plan rate increases, an action that had been taken by the state Insurance Superintendent.

MODDERN Cures Act briefing.  This week the National Health Council held a Congressional briefing to talk about the MODDERN Cures Act, a bill to modernize the FDA approval process, taking into account that many compounds and possible therapies get ‘shelved’ because of the lack of patent protection.  The National MS Society supports this legislation and among the panelists was an MS researcher who, with research funding from the Society and NIH, has been developing an estrogen-based therapy, recognizing that when a woman with MS is pregnant, the symptoms have a marked improvement.  This therapy holds much promise, but the possibility for it coming to market is very tentative because of the lack of patentability. 

“Massive Fiscal Cliff.”  That’s how Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke characterized what potentially lies ahead on January 1, 2013 because of the twin events of automatic, large spending cuts through sequestration coupled with the end of the Bush era tax cuts, which means taxes will rise.  The Hill reports on his concern for the health of the economy.

Recovery Accelerating.  “. . . but on the other hand” Bernanke detailed how our economic recovery is accelerating, jobs are being added across industries, and even the housing market is improving.  I guess this is why President Truman wanted a one-handed economist.

Thomas Edison Interview Questions.  This of course has nothing to do with advocacy, health policy, or MS but everyone has had a tough job interview right?  Well probably not as difficult as those who interviewed with Thomas Edison – check out his interview questions.

Mobile Medical Apps.  Maybe you’re a budding entrepreneur, or your company or organization is thinking of developing a mobile app.  This piece talks about the 6 essential components for success.

That’s it for today – have a terrific weekend! 

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