Bestowing its highest honor for elected officials, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society has named New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan as 2015 Governor of the Year, Georgia’s Johnny Isakson and Connecticut’s Chris Murphy as 2015 U.S. Senators of the Year, and Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado’s First District as 2015 U.S. Representative of the Year. These four honorees have demonstrated leadership on a number of issues important to the MS community, including:
- Governor Hassan shaped the bipartisan expansion of New Hampshire’s Medicaid program to increase access to health coverage to as many as 50,000 hard-working New Hampshirites, including people living with MS.
- Senators Isakson and Murphy are the lead sponsors of the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act (S. 849) in the Senate, legislation that would establish a data collection system to track the incidence and prevalence of neurological diseases, including MS.
- In the U.S. House, Representative DeGette championed the introduction and passage of the 21st Century Cures Act (H.R. 6) which is designed to modernize the discovery, development and delivery of treatments, and to accelerate the path to cures for diseases including MS, and includes the House version of the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act.
Governor Hassan is the mother of a child living with severe disabilities and an ardent, long-time advocate for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our workforce and communities. Hassan proclaimed October Disability Employment Awareness Month in New Hampshire, she annually officiates the New Hampshire Americans with Disabilities Act Award, and she initiated a review of current health insurance regulations and sought public input to revise and improve network adequacy rules and transparency.
In addition to his sponsorship of the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act, Senator Isakson partnered with the Society and other leading neurology-related organizations to host a Senate briefing discussing the importance of this bill, sharing his personal diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and urging his Senate colleagues to help find answers and cures to neurological diseases by co-sponsoring and passing S. 849. Senator Isakson is also a dedicated member of the Congressional Multiple Sclerosis Caucus.
Beyond his lead sponsorship of the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act, Senator Murphy has been a devoted supporter of increased investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest source of funding for MS research in the world. Senator Murphy has long fought for all Americans to have access to comprehensive, affordable healthcare and supported passage of the Affordable Care Act. He also helped ensure passage of a resolution recommending that federally-funded facilities be required to provide equal access to people with disabilities.
Century Cures Act (H.R. 6), championed by Representative Diana DeGette, would also increase resources for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, Representative DeGette has co-sponsored the Ensuring Access to Quality Complex Rehabilitation Technology Act (H.R. 1516), which improves access to and quality standards of individually-configured wheelchairs, and seating and positioning systems, so that people with progressed MS can have their medical needs met and remain independent.
The National MS Society will present these awards during its 25th
annual Public Policy Conference, from March 14 to 16, 2016. The event brings almost 350 MS activists from across the country to D.C. to educate elected officials about the needs of people affected by MS.
For more information on the Society and MS issues, visit nationalMSsociety.org/advocacy
, or follow these hashtags in social media: #MS, #MSactivist, #MSresearch, #NIH, #CDMRP and #neurodata.