Highlights from the Hill March 24, 2015
CARERS Act Introduced in the Senate
Senators Cory Booker (NJ), Rand Paul (KY), and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), have introduced legislation to lift federal barriers to research on cannabis and CBD, and protect individuals in states with medical cannabis programs. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act (S. 683) would move cannabis to Schedule II and to remove cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act. For individuals experiencing multiple seizures every day, cannabis is a treatment option they would like to consider with their care team when other options have failed. Medical use of cannabis has been legalized in 23 states and the District of Columbia, and people living with uncontrolled seizures have reported beneficial effects and reduced seizure activity when using medical cannabis, especially CBD oil. Urge your Senators to support the CARERS Act at http://bit.ly/EFS683 to facilitate research on cannabis and help the epilepsy community gain safe, legal access to this treatment option.
DEA Scheduling Bill Passes House
Thanks to the advocacy of the epilepsy community, on March 16th the House of Representatives passed the Improving Regulatory Transparency for New Medical Therapies Act (H.R. 639), which would bring transparency and consistency to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) review of new Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications. The bill now moves to the Senate, and we will continue to advocate for passage of this important legislation and need your help! Access to new therapies is particularly important for the one third of people living with epilepsy who experience intractable or uncontrolled seizures, and the many more who experience significant adverse effects from medication. Urge your Senators to support H.R. 639 at http://bit.ly/EFSenDEA so safe and innovative treatments can get to people living with epilepsy in a more timely and predictable manner.
Senators Introduce Legislation to Preserve Six Protected Classes
On March 4th Senator Charles Grassley (IA) and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) introduced legislation (S 648) to strengthen the Six Protected Classes in Medicare Part D. Epilepsy medications are part of the protected classes in the Medicare program and the Epilepsy Foundation has strongly supported steps to maintain this important patient protection. The Six Protected Classes help to prevent forced medication switching which can lead to serious consequences, like breakthrough seizures. The Partnership for Part D Access, of which we are a member, was instrumental in securing the introduction of S 648. Read our letter in support of this important bill at http://bit.ly/EFS648.
Epilepsy Foundation Joins Letter to Extend CHIP Funding
We joined more than 1,500 national, state, tribal, and local organizations in a letter urging Congress to provide a four-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). For nearly two decades, CHIP has been an essential source of coverage for families, ensuring access to high-quality and affordable health care for children. It is important that Congress acts quickly to ensure that there will be no interruption in coverage for the more than 10 million children enrolled in CHIP. You can read the letter at http://bit.ly/CHIP2015.