FDA Approves New MS Drug. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved teriflunomide once-daily pills (Aubagio,® Genzyme, a Sanofi company) to treat relapsing forms of MS. This is the second oral disease-modifying therapy approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis. The therapy is expected to be available for prescription by October 1, 2012 in the U.S.
National Capital Chapter Ambassadors Ball. This week the public policy office attended the 34th Annual Ambassadors Ball on Wednesday night. The event honored Senate MS Caucus Co-Chair Senator Bob Casey and Congressman Lee Terry for their work on behalf of people with MS. A large number of Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic core joined Members of Congress, MS Activists, and MS financial supporters. The event started with a somber note when Senator Casey read a moving statement from President Obama about the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya which occurred the day before.
The Honorable Lee Terry, Congressman from the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska, was honored for his support of MS research initiatives. Congressman Terry is a member of the Congressional MS Caucus and a supporter of the Lifespan Respite Care Program in 2006. He is also a co-sponsor of the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act. Congressman Terry shared his personal story of a lifelong friend who is living with MS and how he has seen it affect her, her family, and her community. (Photo credit Betty Adler Photography)
The Honorable Robert Casey, Senator from Pennsylvania, was honored for his work on the Congressional MS Caucus as a longtime member and co-chair in the 112th Congress, as well as his support of the Lifespan Respite Care Program, the National Neurological Diseases Surveillance System Act, and MS research funding in both the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and the National Institutes of Health. (Photo credit Tracy Timmester, Timmester Photography)
Medical Research $$ in your State. United for Medical Research has a great website that allows you to click on your state and find out the impact medical research has on your state’s economy. While attending an event yesterday I heard NIH head Frances Collins make the point about how not only is this research necessary and important, but as it relates to the economy, it provides one of the greatest leverage for economic growth of any spending.
Joshua’s waiting for 2014. Georgetown is posting stories about the impact various provisions of the health reform law will have and in this post, it talks about how the law will impact little leaguer Josh who was born with a heart condition with a fatality rate of 100%.
Kick the Can – it’s not just a kid’s game. Congress has returned to Washington and serious conversations are happening about the various scenarios that could result from the November election and the resulting impact on budget negotiations. Congress once again passed a temporary measure funding the government for the next six months.. Sequestration is set to begin on January 1, 2013 so what Congress does during a lame-duck session will matter and now Rep. Ryan’s position on sequestration is getting renewed attention. A commentator at CNNMoney penned a piece about yesterdays announced actions by the Federal Reserve entitle the Fed Acted Because Congress is Lame and I don’t think he was projecting ahead to the lame-duck session post-election.
Obamacare – yes? No? Governor Romney has repeatedly indicated that there are two provisions of the health law that he’d like to maintain if president (pre-existing conditions and coverage up to age 26) however those comments have taken on new steam as the election nears. Running mate Rep. Paul Ryan indicated he supported the ‘maintenance of effort’ provision of the law. Both candidates have spent some time recently clarifying their views on Obamacare.
500,000. That’s the number of jobs predicted to be wiped out should Medicare cuts happen. In the meantime it’s being predicted that our health care system needs 260,000 more nurses by 2015!
Medicare Part D Enrollment Dates Announced. October 15, 2012 to December 7, 2012.
MLR & Rate Review. Earlier it was reported that insurers were rebating well over $1 billion in premiums due to the health law provision mandating that a set percentage of premium dollars be spent on providing care. Now HHS reports that another billion has been saved for consumers due to the rate review provision of the law. On another note here is an article with ACA and Insurance Q & A you may find of interest.
3/4ths of a Trillion dollars. That’s how much the Institutes of Medicine says was wasted last year with inefficient health care usage. “If home building were like health care,” says a new Institute of Medicine report, “carpenters, electricians, and plumbers each would work with different blueprints, with very little coordination.”
Rural & Underserved Access. The National MS Society continues its work to expand access in rural and underserved areas of our country. There are many established efforts consistent with our goals including this school based effort targeted for children. In California there is a legislative effort afloat to woo doctors to underserved areas.
Veterans. Did you know that the VA has a diagnosis care sheet about vets with multiple sclerosis? You can see it here. Also, the National MS Society recently sent a letter of support to Congressmen Charlie Rangel and Glenn Thompson for their bipartisan legislation, H.R. 6107, the Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support Act of 2012 which expands access to telemedicine by removing outdated location requirements so that a vet in Oklahoma can see a doctor in Texas via telemedicine and the doctor’s Texas licensure is sufficient. Also the VA and HHS announced additional expanded access for veterans in rural America.
Good Health Care News. Good news this week in that the number of uninsured Americans dropped by over 1.3 million people according to the U.S. Census. The provision allowing young adults to stay on parent’s coverage until age 26 was credited as partial explanation for the drop. Also, health insurance premium increases were among the lowest in a long, long time.
The Golden Arches. How many of us remember one or more of the classic McDonald’s theme songs from McDonald’s is a happy place or the ‘two whole beef patties, special sauce . . .’? Well, now we will know how many calories are in every McDonald’s item and the good news is that the Big Mac is not the biggest calorie item!
Also, anyone who has photos from visits with their Senators or Representatives are asked to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!