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September 14, 2007


September 14, 2007


Senate Committee Passes Stop TB Now Act

On September 11, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. Biden (D-DE), unanimously passed the global tuberculosis (TB) authorization bill, the Stop TB Now Act, S. 968, without amendments. After hearing brief remarks from the bill's sponsor, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), the committee passed the bill by voice vote.

The Stop TB Now Act, sponsored by Sens. Boxer (D-CA) and Smith (R-OR), reauthorizes the United States Agency for International Development's (USAID) global TB program, commits the US to the World Health Organization (WHO) goals of reducing the global TB deaths and disease burden, and authorizes $330 million in funding for USAID's global TB program in 2009 and $450 million in 2010, plus $70 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) global TB activities. The Foreign Relations Committee's passage of the bill is further good news for global TB control. Last week, the full Senate approved an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 State Department and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that increases funding for global TB control at USAID to $200 million for 2008.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed the House bill, H.R. 1567, in July. The next step for the Stop TB Now Act is a floor vote in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. In order for the bills to be scheduled for votes before Congress adjourns in November, they must gain more bipartisan support in the House and Senate. ATS members and friends are asked to contact their House Representative and two Senators to request their cosponsorship of the bills.

How to Take Action
Call the Capitol Switchboard at 1-202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative or Senator or zipcode if you do not know their name. When you are connected to an office, ask for the Foreign Affairs Legislative Assistant. If you leave a voicemail message, include your name and phone number so that they can call you back. The following is a sample phone message: "I am a constituent and a healthcare provider from (your town) and I am calling to ask Rep/Sen. ___ to strengthen global tuberculosis control efforts and prevent outbreaks of drug-resistant TB by cosponsoring the Stop TB Now Act, S.968/H.R.1567."

Click on the following link to e-mail your members of Congress: http://www.thoracic.org/sections/about-ats/advocacy/take-action-now.html


Domestic TB Bill to be Considered by Senate Committee in October

The domestic TB bill, the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act, S. 1551, sponsored by Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Hutchison (R-TX), will be considered by the Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), in October. The bill increases resources and funding for CDC's TB control activities, including state TB control programs, and expands research into TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines. Action has not yet been scheduled on the House version of the bill, H.R. 1532, sponsored by Reps. Green (D-TX) and Wilson (R-NM). The ATS Washington Office will keep members informed of when their action is needed to support domestic TB control legislation.


President's Panel on Cancer Call for FDA Authority to Regulate Tobacco

This summer, the President's Panel on Cancer called for the nation to demonstrate the "political will" to take steps to reduce cancer rates in the U.S. Key among the panel's recommendations were:

  • Authorize the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate tobacco product contents and tobacco product advertising.
  • Accept the rapid reduction and eventual elimination of tobacco use and environmental tobacco smoke exposure as a moral obligation and not export the problem to developing nations.
  • Coordinate U.S. agricultural subsidy and public health policy related to diet and nutrition to improve the food supply and help ensure that all people have access to affordable, healthy food.
  • Unmask and resist the tactics of disease vectors (the tobacco, food, and beverage industries) that are at the core of so much of the cancer and other chronic diseases that are sickening and killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands each year.
  • Fund tobacco control efforts at least at minimum CDC-recommended levels in each state.
  • Immediately ratify the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control.

The Presidents Cancer Panel is comprised of 3 panelists appointed by President Bush, including the famous cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong. What make's the report particularly noteworthy is that many of the panel's recommendations are opposed by President Bush - particularly giving FDA authority to regulate tobacco.


Senate Provides $500 Million for VA Research

Last week the Senate passed the FY08 VA Appropriations bill which provided $500 million for the VA research program, an increase of $86 million over current year funding and an $89 million increase over the President's recommendation. The House earlier this year passed its version of the VA Appropriations bill which provided $480 million for VA research, an increase of $66 million.

A conference committee will shortly be convened to resolve the different funding levels in the House and Senate bills. The ATS will advocate for the higher funding number in the Senate bill.

The ATS, in its role on the Friends of VA Health Care and Research Coalition (FOVA) executive committee, has played a lead role in the research community advocating for increases in the VA research program.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

House Bill Gains Cosponsors

Legislation to create a national coverage policy for pulmonary rehabilitation under Medicare continues to add cosponsors. The House bill H.R. 552, introduced by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Chip Pickering (R-MS) now has 136 cosponsors. The two most recent cosponsors are Rep. Louise Slaughter- McIntosh (D-NY) and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA). The Senate bill S. 329 has 33 cosponsors.

Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator