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March 3, 2008


March 3, 2008

ATS Council of Chapter Representative Lobbies Congress

In February, members of the ATS Council of Chapter Representatives (CCR), joined by Chapter Administrators and Public Advisory Roundtable members visited with members of Congress to advocate on behalf of the ATS membership. CCR members called on Congress to pass legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration authority to regulate tobacco products, cover pulmonary rehabilitation under Medicare and address the physician supply shortage.

The more than 40 ATS members who participated in the lobby day made visits to over 60 Congressional offices. The lobby day also featured talks from Representatives Tom Allen (D-ME), Gene Green (D-TX), Chip Pickering (R-MS), Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and NIEHS Acting Director Samuel Wilson, PhD.



Dr. David Schwartz Leaves NIEHS


David A. Schwartz, M.D., M.P.H., former director of NIEHS announced that he will be leaving NIEHS and has accepted a job as the director of the Pulmonary and Critical Care Division and Center for Genetics and Therapeutics at the National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver. In August 2007, Dr. Schwartz stepped down as director of NIEHS in response to congressional inquiries about management practices at NIEHS. Dr. Samuel Wilson, Ph.D, is now the acting NIEHS director.


Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Calls for VA Research Increase


The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee called for a $555 million (+$75 million) budget for FY09 in its views and estimates on veterans programs released this week. The views and estimate budget prepared by the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee provides guidance to the Appropriations Committee as they put together the funding bill for veterans programs.



House Holds Hearing on Asbestos Ban Legislation


The House Energy and Commerce Environment and Hazardous Materials subcommittee held a hearing on legislation to ban asbestos use in the U.S. last week. The hearing featured witnesses from EPA, industry, labor and asbestos victim groups testifying on the legislation. Much of the hearing discussion focused on whether the legislation should grant any essential use exemptions and if so, what those exemptions should be.

Senate legislation that passed in 2007 contains a 1% by weight exemption for asbestos-containing materials. The committee heard testimony from a number of government and non-government witness stating that a 1% by weight exemption from the asbestos ban could still lead to dangerous exposures to asbestos.



WHO Report Shows Growing TB Drug Resistance


A new report released by WHO shows significant increase in multi-drug resistance of new TB cases. The report documented that the proportion of MDR-TB cases is rising significantly in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, China and India. The highest rate of 22.3 drug resistant TB cases was found in Azerbaijan. The report also noted the absence of data from Africa.

WHO Technical officer and report author Abigail Wright, Eli Lilly representative Gail Cassell, PhD, and ATS member Michael Iseman, MD, participated in a Hill briefing to share the key findings of the report with congressional staff.



ATS comments on United Health Care Proposed Coverage for FENO


In February, the ATS and ACCP submitted joint comments to private insurer United Health Care regarding their proposed coverage policy for forced exhaled nitric oxide (FENO) monitoring. The proposed coverage policy circulated by United Health Care for comment considered FENO experimental and proposed denying payment for FENO monitoring. The joint ATS/ACCP comments noted the growing scientific literature supporting the clinical applications for FENO, that Medicare covers FENO monitoring and recommended United Health Care cover FENO monitoring.

Points of Contact

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