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Society Fights for MS Research Funding and Health Coverage in Congress

July 26, 2017

MS activists can help protect two important policy priorities moving through the Senate this week:
  • Access to quality health coverage
  • MS research funding
We need you to ask your U.S. Senators to vote NO on any health care bills that would result in less coverage and higher costs. On July 25, after Vice President Pence broke a 50-50 tie to begin debate, the Senate started hearing amendments and considering legislation to potentially repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Senate is expected to vote on various versions of a repeal bill but all of them would result in the loss of health care coverage for 15-32 million Americans, and higher costs for people living with chronic, complex conditions like multiple sclerosis. Improvements to our health insurance system are needed. The Society calls on the Senate to oppose the current legislative proposals and instead, work together to draft a new, bipartisan bill that will strengthen and expand access to affordable, quality health coverage. .  
We also need you to urge your U.S. Senators to protect the MS Research Program (MSRP) at the Department of Defense (DoD) by supporting the Durbin-Blunt Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The MSRP is part of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), which fills research gaps by funding high-risk and high gain projects that other research agencies – like the National Institutes of Health – may not fund. 
The CDMRPs are authorized by NDAA, which is expected to be debated on the Senate floor in the coming days. As currently written, the NDAA would prohibit funding for medical research by DoD unless such research meets very narrowly defined criteria and places unnecessary and burdensome red-tape acquisition compliance and auditing requirements on research programs within the DoD.  The Durbin-Blunt Amendment would nullify Sections 733, 891, 892, and 893 of the NDAA. 
  • Sec. 733 could jeopardize funding for research activities that have broader relevance to the U.S. military, including the health and well-being of military families and veterans, military readiness, and the efficiency of the military health care system. 
  • Section 891, 892, and 893 would place unnecessary and burdensome acquisition compliance and auditing requirements on programs that are already serving the taxpayer well. The administrative cost of complying with these new requirements has the potential to outpace any savings that could accrue by increased program oversight – especially for smaller research programs that maintain less than $10 million in funding year-to-year, such as the MSRP.
The Society calls on all Senators to support the Durbin-Blunt Amendment, which would nullify these four troubling provisions. The MSRP funds critical research that is complementary to that done by the Society and NIH, leading us close to a cure for MS.
Please contact your U.S. Senators about BOTH bills today.

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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