March 11, 2011
Celebrate MS Awareness Week at the Texas Capitol on Monday!
- What: Join MS activists this Monday as Rep. Mark Shelton honors the National MS Society. The Representative will read a resolution recognizing the Society’s work and MS Awareness Week. Let’s bring MS orange to the Capitol to celebrate!
- Where: Texas House Gallery (3rd Floor, west side of the capitol). Sit on the west side.
- When: THIS MONDAY, March 14th at 1pm
- Parking: The Texas Capitol Visitors Parking lot (12th and Trinity St.) is free for the first two hours!
Don’t forget to wear orange!
House Insurance Committee Takes Testimony On Prescription Drug Bills
On Tuesday, Tracy Brinton, MS activist from Keller, TX and Mireya Zapata, Regional Director for Activism & Long Term Services, testified before the House Insurance Committee on two of our priority bills. House Bill 1405 and House Bill 1253, both by Rep. John Smithee, Chairman of the Insurance Committee, will help Texans living with a chronic illness like MS budget for the cost of their medications.
Tracy, like many Texans with MS, works very hard to stick to her family's budget in order to make her monthly health insurance premiums and prescription drug co-insurance:
"I have COBRA from my ex-husband's job for health insurance. It costs me $600 per month for the premium. My MS disease modfiying drug costs $1,142 per month after insurance. Luckily, I qualified for a patient assistance program, and that droppped the cost of my prescription to $340 per month. I am grateful for that, but it still means that I pay a minimum of $1,000 per month for health care, and that's before my living expenses and food. I should be able to count on the terms of my insurance policy not to change during the 12 months of my contract."
-Tracy Brinton, 10 years living with MS
HB 1405 would require health plans to maintain prescription drug coverage for the life of the annual health insurance contract and HB 1253 would give enrollees notice of any changes to prescription drug coverage 60 days prior to contract renewal. Both bills were left pending for future action, as is customary.
Click here to watch an archive of the House hearing. (Fast forward to 1:49.)
UPDATE! After the hearing, Rep. Rick Hardcastle, our legislative champion in the House, and Rep. Craig Eiland, a member of the Insurance Committee, both signed on as Joint Authors of both HB 1405 and HB 1253. In addition, we just learned that HB 1405 will be up for a vote in the House committee next week.
The hard work of MS Activists during the Texas Public Policy conference last week and in committee this week is already paying off.
Texas Activists Bring National MS Priorities to the Hill
This week, the voices of MS activists from across the nation were heard on Capitol Hill. Over 200 MS activists and staff members gathered at the Society’s National Public Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. to address federal issues that affect people with MS:
- Adult Day Achievement Center Enhancement Act
- MS Research Funding through the Department of Defense (CDMRP)
- Improving Access to Neurologists as Primary Care Providers
Activists from Texas visited with the offices of Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, who are both members of the Congressional MS Caucus (http://msactivist.blogspot.com/) and have an ongoing commitment to MS issues, particularly medical research funding.
Kim & Gary Campbell and Linda Coker visited with Congressman Lloyd Doggett and shared their struggles with the need for caregiver respite and adult day services, the long wait for neurologists who take Medicaid, and the importance of continued funding for MS research. Congressman Doggett listened to their story and shared his own connection to MS: his daughter, who was diagnosed two years ago.
Natalie Steadman and Andrea Carter also visited with their representatives from the Panhandle and Houston areas to share the Society’s priorities.
We were thrilled to see Texas Congressman Mac Thornberry honored with the Society’s Representative of the Year award for his hard work on behalf of the Society. Activists were able to meet the Congressman and his wife Sally at the conference and thank him personally for his efforts.
Walking the halls the Capitol buildings may have left us exhausted, but we’re also exhilarated. We’ll be back next year!
MS Activists in Action
- Have you seen our Flickr page? Visit the page to view pictures of MS activists in action or upload your own!
- Stay up to date with the latest advocacy happenings by becoming a fan of our Facebook page!
Want to join our movement at the Texas Capitol?
Contact your Government Affairs Coordinator, Linnea Nasman, at (512) 340-2711 or at firstname.lastname@example.org