Coupon Bill Passes the Mass. House and Senate
Joan Shaughnessey, sharing her story in support of the Coupon Bill, at the World MS Day Rally in Boston on May 30.
After much hard work by MS activists, medical professionals and consumer groups, a new law enacted July 1 in Massachusetts now permits access to prescription medication pharmaceutical assistance programs and discount coupons for prescriptions with no generic version. The law is already beginning to help patients afford increasing co-pays and co-insurance for specific brand name prescriptions. The high cost of MS drug therapies and shift in cost sharing patterns have made it difficult for many people to adhere to prescribed treatments. Paying out- of-pocket results in personal financial hardship for many individuals with chronic conditions. Implementation of the law will be closely tracked for re-evaluation in 2015.
Congratulations to all of the MS activists and coalition advocates who worked for four years to get this legislation to Governor Patrick! This successful endeavor shows the impact when activists ban together. We also extend our thanks to the many lawmakers who worked on this legislation including the House and Senate Conference Committee, Senator Michael Rodgrigues, Senator Michael Moore, and Representatives David Sullivan, Steven Walsh, and Bradley Jones, as well as the more than 50 legislative co-sponsors in both the House and the Senate.
Make your vote count
by Renee Vandlik
Election Day 2012 is on the horizon, so get ready to cast your vote for who best represents the issues you care about. Here’s what you need to know to vote in the elections on November 6.
The big picture
This fall, Americans will cast votes for the presidency, every member of the U.S. House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senate. What’s different? Since the 2010 census, 15 million Americans became eligible to vote and an anticipated 50 million more will vote this November due to stronger engagement in national campaigns. However, people with disabilities register to vote at a 16 percent lower rate than other Americans. And with 1 in 10 eligible voters having a disability, that’s a lot of people whose voices aren’t being heard. Make sure yours is. National Voter Registration Day is September 25, 2012. Register yourself and learn how you can register others at www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting/Register.shtml.
Prepare to vote
This year, citizens in 30 states will have to comply with voter identification laws. Contact your local polling precinct ahead of time to find out what you’ll need.
Also ask about accessibility: you don’t want to show up, only to find out you can’t get in the door. Since 2005, The Help America Vote Act requires every precinct in the country to have at least one voting machine or system accessible to persons with disabilities, including those with vision impairments. Learn more at www.aapd.com/what-we-do/voting/.
If it’s difficult to vote in-person, plan to vote absentee. Learn more at www.longdistancevoter.org.
The informed voter
Go to www.nationalMSsociety.org/advocacy to learn more about issues important to people with MS, such as health care, accessibility and medical research. Then find out where the candidates stand on those issues — www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org is one place to start.
Renee Vandlik is the Society’s director of State Government and Local Government Relations.