Hill Day

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Hill Day 2013

ATS Hill Day 2013 photos by Andrew Snow

ATS officers and members from across the nation visited Washington, D.C., in late March to advocate for respiratory health as part of ATS Hill Day 2013. Several patient representatives from the ATS Public Advisory Round table joined in the effort. Participants focused on three issues: research funding, tobacco control, and a permanent fix to the Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula.

On research, ATS Hill Day participants expressed their strong support for funding at the National Institutes of Health, and urged Congress to provide additional funding to NIH. Much of the discussion focused on the adverse effects that sequestration cuts are having on research.

The message on tobacco control was to strongly oppose legislation to exempt large cigars from Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority. Legislation has been introduced that would exempt large cigars (cigars that weigh more than 6 lbs/1000) from any FDA regulations. ATS advocates were equipped with candy flavored cigars—products clearly made for and marketed to kids—as examples of products that would be unregulated if the legislation was enacted.

Lastly, patients and physicians urged Congress to act immediately to create a permanent fix to the Medicare SGR formula. It was pointed out that the continual threat of SGR-driven cuts is undermining both physician and patient confidence in the Medicare program. On the positive side, ATS members reminded Congress that the projected cost of a permanent fix is lower now than it has been in years—so now is the time for Congress to act.