Greg Porta, Marc Moss, M.D., ATS President-Elect, Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), James Beck, M.D., ATS Secretary-Treasurer, Gary Ewart, ATS staff and Polly Parsons, M.D., ATS Vice President.
Steve Kirtland, Lynn Reinke, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Linda Nici and Corey Cross.
Arlene Butz, M.D., Samya Nasr, M.D., Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Rachel Damico, M.D., Kari Rosbeck.
Chris Fukui, M.D., Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Steve Kantrow, M.D.
Left, Katherine Rivera, David Gozal, Aaron Hamvas, Beth Sufian, Dustin Fraidenburg, Sonal Malhotra.
On March 29, 2017, over 40 ATS members and patient advocates traveled to Capitol Hill to advocate for increased research funding, healthcare reform that ensures affordable health insurance coverage and for legislation to expand research and treatment for veterans with burn pit exposures. ATS members came from 23 states across the country with members of Congress and their staff to discuss the policy priorities of the American Thoracic Society.
The top priority of the ATS Hill Day was to advocate for NIH research funding. The research community was stunned by President Trump’s proposed budget to cut NIH funding by 18% for fiscal year and the ATS wanted to send a strong message to Congress about the essential value of NIH research funding to the health and welfare of the American public. Our strong support for NIH funding was well received on Capitol Hill with members of Congress across a broad political spectrum assuring ATS members that President Trump’s proposed NIH cut is opposed by Congress and that Congress will continue to seek increased funding for NIH and other federal science programs. While the ATS received reassuring messages from our Hill visits, the ATS will continue to keep the pressure on Congress make good on their promise to support NIH funding.
A second important and timely issue was health reform. In hopes of finding an issue that might find bipartisan support, the ATS also urged Congress to dedicate funding to better understand the unusual respiratory disease suffered by servicemen and women exposed to burn pits and other respiratory exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bipartisan legislation has been introduced that would create a VA Center of Excellence to study burn pit and other respiratory exposures.
ATS Hill Day “teams” also featured participation from Public Advisory Roundtable (PAR) members and fellows, who provided unique perspectives on the need for increased respiratory research, showing directly how scientific research translates to patient advances. ATS fellows helped demonstrate the importance of sustaining the future generation of researchers for members of Congress and staff.
ATS President David Gozal, M.D., said, “The ATS Hill Day is an outstanding physician-researcher partnership with our patient groups where we communicate directly with our members of Congress about the ATS’s legislative priorities including the need to increase research NIH funding, affordable health insurance coverage and expanded research and treatment for veterans with burn pits exposures.” He continued, “The ATS Hill Day provides a unique opportunity to advocate and build relationships with our legislators to advance respiratory health.”