October 31, 2007

Latest Updates Regarding Lupus Advocacy on Capitol Hill

Hello. My name is Sara Chang and I would like to give you some updates on a few things the LFA Government Relations Department is working on with Capitol Hill. Congress is hoping to recess for the year just before Christmas, so we have about a month to get our voices heard!

Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill

Regarding the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill (Labor-HHS-Education), the Senate Appropriations Committee has included funds for the Office of Women’s Health to develop and implement a lupus awareness and education campaign aimed at reaching health care professionals and the general public. The Committee has also recommended increasing funding to expand lupus epidemiology research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The House of Representatives passed its version of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations legislation on July 19th. The Senate passed its version on October 23rd. The Senate and House of Representatives hope to negotiate the difference between the two bills on November 1st. The Senate has mentioned it hopes the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill will be the one of the first of the 12 appropriations bills sent to the President.

Lupus REACH Amendments

The Lupus Research, Education, Awareness, Communications, and Healthcare (REACH) Amendments legislation, S.1359/H.R.1192, is extremely important to people with lupus, their families, and physicians. The Lupus REACH Amendments was introduced in the Senate by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT) and it was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Kendrick Meek (D-FL) and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

S. 1359/H.R. 1192 will help our nation make considerable strides toward bridging the gaps in lupus research, education, and awareness. Health professionals and researchers will be able to significantly enhance the lives of those affected by lupus. Currently there are 67 cosponsors in the House and 15 in the Senate, but we need to have at least 100 in the House and 25 in the Senate by the end of the year!

Take action NOW: www.capwiz.com/lfa

Lupus Advocacy Day 2008

Some of you may have heard about Lupus Advocacy Day 2007. During the LFA’s 2007 Lupus Advocacy Day, 350 participants from 31 states met with 146 legislators. We expect the 2008 Lupus Advocacy Day to be even more influential!

The date has been set for Lupus Advocacy Day 2008. Join the LFA in Washington, DC March 10-11, 2008 and make your voice heard! Advocates and LFA members will travel to Capitol Hill to meet with Members of Congress.

Go to www.lupus.org/advocacy to sign up TODAY to become a lupus e-Advocate. Pass this information to everyone you know!

Enrollment for Medicare Part D

Lastly, Medicare Part D enrollment is starting soon. As you know, Medicare Part D is the prescription drug benefit resulting from the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, which provides all Medicare beneficiaries with the option to add prescription drug coverage. You may sign up when you first become eligible for Medicare (three months before the month you turn age 65 until three months after you turn age 65). If you receive Medicare due to a disability, you can join from three months before to three months after your 25th month of cash disability payments.

The next opportunity to enroll in Medicare Part D will be from November 15, 2007 to December 31, 2007. If you are currently enrolled in a plan, now is also the time to check for any changes that might have been made to your plan! For more information go to http://www.cms.hhs.gov/center/openenrollment.asp

If you have any questions about what is happening on Capitol Hill that may affect people with lupus, please contact me, Sara Chang, at chang@lupus.org. Thank you!

No comments: