Monday, February 4, 2008

Federal Focus - MS Policy Priorities Identified for 2008

New MS Activism Group Discusses 2008 Policy Priorities:

A group of individuals living with MS, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and National MS Society staff gathered last week in Washington, DC, to share ideas and help shape our federal policy priorities for the year. It was the first meeting of the newly established Federal Activism Council. This body will help focus our activism on the unmet needs of the MS community and ensure federal policy and advocacy are discussed and analyzed in a broad, 360-degree manner.

Potential policy priorities for 2008 include:
  • Increase federal funding for multiple sclerosis research.
  • Work with federal agencies on the incidence and prevalence rates of MS nationwide.
  • Eliminate the 24-month waiting period that Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries must endure prior to enrolling in Medicare.
  • Improve the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and prevent any attempts to roll back current FMLA policy.
  • Develop appropriate federal legislation that would require insurers (including self-insured) to provide maintenance physical therapy for people living with MS.
  • Support the Promoting Wellness for Individuals with Disabilities Act (S. 1050/H.R. 3294) that would allow for the development and setting of standards for accessible medical equipment.
  • Promote adequate funding for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reduce the backlog of disability appeals cases.
  • Create guiding principles for the Society to enter into the broader debate on healthcare reform as it relates to people with chronic diseases and disabilities.
  • Support and pass legislation to give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a pathway for approving follow-on biologics.
  • These issues were evaluated based on their impact on people living with MS, political viability, potential for collaboration, adequacy of information, degree to which the MS community will be energized, and fiscal feasibility.

The Federal Activism Council will continue to identify MS issues and guide the direction of our activism. Similar advocacy and government relations groups exist in many states. Contact your chapter to discuss a potential MS issue or to get involved.

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