AAAAI leadership invited all members to participate in the 2020 Virtual Advocacy Day. While in other years the AAAAI did a series of targeted Congressional visits on specific priority issues, the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person visits infeasible AND made our issues especially timely. An email to AAAAI membership and members explained how this Virtual Advocacy Day was part of the larger backdrop of issues, related to social justice. Read the email here. All of the Virtual Advocacy Day issues addressed reflect the AAAAI’s ongoing commitment to health inequities. Read more here.
A video from Mary Beth Fasano, MD, MSPH, FAAAAI, AAAAI President, announced our Virtual Advocacy Day and introduced our priority issues for this event: food allergy research funding; the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act (H.R. 2468), and expanding access to telemedicine beyond COVID-19.
Our Virtual Advocacy Day had three levels of engagement:
1. Members of the Board of Directors, the Office of Practice Management, and the Advocacy Committee will be sending personalized emails to their Senators and Representatives.
2. AAAAI members reached out to their their Senators and Representative (1) through email, (2) by submitting comments via their elected representative’s and senators’ websites, and/or (3) via social media.
The results generated a tremendous presence on social media. Click here to learn more.
3. Finally, Dr. Fasano recorded a brief video message that our professional advocacy team at Hart Health Strategies sent to the staff of every member of Congress. This video highlighted our three issues, and the email included a link to the same issue brief attached here.
Click here to see the issue brief on all three of our priority issues, as follows.
Food Allergy Research
The AAAAI has long been a leader in advocating for prioritizing federal funding for food allergy research. As you know, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported a continued rise in the prevalence of food allergies in children, with far too many of those children having experienced a severe reaction, including anaphylaxis. Over 200,000 Americans annually require emergency medical care for allergic reactions to food.
You can learn more about the AAAAI's work to coordinate support among physician and patient organizations for funding food allergy research funding by clicking here. Read letters to congressional appropriations leaders from March 12, 2020, February 20, 2020, and April 4, 2019 that were developed by the AAAAI and joined by supporting organizations. There is also an April 1, 2020, stakeholder support letter to defense appropriations leaders from the Defense Health Research Consortium, of which the AAAAI is a member.
School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act (H.R. 2468)
The AAAAI has been a leader in the introduction and coordination of advocacy efforts for the School-Based Allergies and Asthma Management Program Act (H.R. 2468). The legislation, sponsored by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Representative Phil Roe, MD (R-TN), encourages schools to implement management plans to help students identify and control their asthma and allergies, reducing absenteeism and making schools safer for students who have these chronic conditions. The model for this legislation is based on the AAAAI's School-based Asthma Management Program (SAMPRO™).
Read more about the AAAAI's efforts to advocate for H.R. 2468, including the bill text, a press release from the sponsors regarding the bill's introduction, and background information on SAMPRO™. In response to ongoing advocacy from the AAAAI and our stakeholder partners, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which holds jurisdiction over the bill, advanced H.R. 2468 through committee on a voice vote earlier this year. The AAAAI submitted testimony for the committee, which you can review here. Because the bill has been favorably reported out of committee, it can now be considered for passage by the full House of Representatives. It has not been introduced in the Senate. We are simply asking for the bill to be included in any upcoming COVID-19 response package.
We need your help in support of H.R. 2468, particularly given the importance of all patients keeping their asthma under control during the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency, to bring the bill to a vote on the House Floor—getting it one step closer to becoming law.
To review the current status of H.R. 2468, click here.
Extending and Strengthening Access to Telehealth Beyond the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
The AAAAI has sought to clarify and ensure reimbursement for telehealth and other vital healthcare services during the coronavirus pandemic, so that practicing A/I physicians can continue to provide optimal patient care during these unprecedented times. Beyond the current pandemic, the AAAAI is urging Congress to make permanent the new telehealth flexibilities provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
On May 6, the AAAAI sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging him to work with federal partners to promulgate rulemaking that would make permanent the virtual care and telehealth flexibilities outlined in CMS rulemaking and as part of approved section 1135 waivers to the extent permitted by law. The AAAAI further urged HHS to seek new authorities from Congress where current law limits HHS’ authority to waive requirements after the end of the public health emergency. The AAAAI also supports efforts to increase access to specialty care via telemedicine for patients with private insurance, as well as for Medicare and Medicaid patients.
Due to the technical nature of this subject, lawmakers need to hear from you to understand why making these changes permanent is in the best interest of the patient and practitioner, especially as states and localities begin to reopen their economies to varying degrees. If you don’t tell your story with your on-the-ground experience, no one will.
If you have any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you’ll join in our Virtual Advocacy Day!