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Senator Chuck Grassley, Representative Jan Schakowsky, and Governor Gavin Newsom Honored as Society’s Elected Officials of the Year

February 28, 2020

The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society has name U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa as its 2019 U.S. Senator of the Year, U.S. Representative Janice Schakowsky of Illinois as its 2019 U.S. Representative of the Year, and Governor Newsom of California as its 2019 Governor of the year.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley
Senator Chuck Grassley was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1980 after serving eight terms in the Iowa House of Representatives and three terms as a Congressman. He is a passionate advocate for controlling the costs of healthcare for Americans while ensuring that health care services are affordable and accountable. During his time as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, he has taken a leadership role pushing for bipartisan reforms on drug pricing. He currently serves on other key committees including Judiciary, Agriculture, Budget, and the Joint Committee on Taxation. In 2003, Senator Grassley helped steer the expansion of Medicare to include Part D, which now helps provide prescription drug benefits to over 39 million beneficiaries. Since then, he continues to identify solutions for helping more Americans afford health insurance, including those currently without insurance. Senator Grassley has focused on assisting Americans in rural communities who are often underserved and ignored in the healthcare system. As a part of this goal, he recently authored a significant reform to how Medicare reimburses rural health care professionals to further support their communities. Currently, Senator Grassley is one of the co-authors of the Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act, which garnered bi-partisan support in the Senate Finance Committee. Working with his Democratic Ranking Member counterpart on the committee, Senator Grassley worked for months to find solutions that start addressing the major issues in the prescription drug supply chain that currently impact millions of Americans. This bill also seeks to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for their role in the current pricing crisis that the country is facing, while also helping save taxpayers billions in costs.

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky
Representative Jan Schakowsky was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1998 and is currently serving her eleventh term. Since her election, she has been an avid supporter of expanding quality and affordable healthcare coverage within her home state of Illinois and nationwide. Representative Schakowsky serves in the House Democratic Leadership as a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and serves on the House Budget and Energy and Commerce Committees. She is Co-Chair of the Task Force on Aging and Families, is a member of the MS Caucus, along with other health-focused caucuses, and is a strong advocate for defending Medicaid funding, affordable access to healthcare and affordable prescription drugs. Demonstrating her passion for affordable prescription drugs and access to health care, Representative Schakowsky sponsors several pieces of legislation to make medications more affordable, including the FAIR Drug Pricing Act. This legislation, a priority of the National MS Society, would require pharmaceutical companies to justify price increases above certain thresholds and bring transparency to the market for prescription drugs. She also introduced the EMPOWER for Health Act of 2019, which passed the House unanimously. EMPOWER is designed to increase access to health care in underserved areas and to diversify the health care workforce to meet the needs of different populations. 

Governor Gavin Newsom
Governor Gavin Newsom was elected as California’s 40th Governor in 2018. He previously served as the Lieutenant Governor of California and Mayor of San Francisco. Before serving in public office, he  graduated from Santa Clara University and helped create the company PlumpJack Associates L.P. On his first day in office, Governor Newsom issued an executive order for achieving cost savings for drug  purchases made by the state, by transitioning all pharmacy services for Medi- Cal managed care to a fee-for-service benefit. In his first budget, Governor Newsom backed programs to bring greater stability to the state healthcare exchanges. As a part of this, the state provided a significant increase in subsidies for people up to 600 percent of the federal poverty level, making California the first state to extend  premium assistance to individuals up to this income level. Governor Newsom’s first budget included provisions to support older adults and people with disabilities. These included $5 million dollars of grant funding to local aging agencies for injury prevention information, education and services to help live as independently as possible. The budget also included funding for a feasibility and actuarial study of financing and benefit options for long-term supports and services.

The National MS Society will present the awards during it’s annual Public Policy Conference, held March 2-4, where nearly 300 MS activists from across the country will join together in Washington, D.C. to educate elected officials about the needs of people living with MS. Nominations for the honor are open to the public. Awardees are chosen by the National MS Society Board of Directors.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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