Friday, April 30, 2010

State Success: Accessible Parking for People with Disabilities in South Carolina

Accessible parking is a serious issue for people living with multiple sclerosis and others with disabilities in South Carolina. In response, the South Carolina Government Relations Committee (GRC) began looking at this issue in 2007. Upon investigation, they found that the current SC Code of Law did not require accountability of physicians writing prescriptions for plates/placards, disability was not clearly defined, fines were not prohibitory, and access aisles were not included.

In addition, it was found that some able-bodied people were obtaining placards from physicians and using them illegally as a matter of convenience. That limited the available spaces for people who needed them. One idea was to include a photo on the placard. The current SC Code of Law also did not include disabilities such as MS in the definition of “handicapped.” The current law focused on visible physical disabilities, which prevented some people with MS from using a plate/placard.

SC GRC members and chapter staff provided testimony to Senate and House subcommittee hearings, along with the Disability Resource Center and the Upstate Accessible Parking Coalition. MS activists across teh state were called to action. When SC Advocacy Day came around in April 2009, the bill had some movement and MS activists kept pushing it forward. They spoke with 55 member of the state House, and left information for 69 others. It worked.

The bill (S.126) was ratified and signed by the governor on June 2, 2009. The changes to the SC Code of Law were enacted on December 2, 2009.

Friday, April 23, 2010

U.S. House of Representatives Recognizes MS Awareness Week

Yesterday, several members of the U.S. House of Representatives recognized the accomplishments of MS Awareness Week and promoted a continued awareness of the fight against multiple sclerosis. Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-9) introduced the resolution (H. Res. 1116) which was cosponsored by 108 bipartisan members of the House. On the House floor, Congresswoman Lee was joined by Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-23) and MS Caucus Co-Chairs Russ Carnahan (MO-3) and Michael Burgess (TX-26) who all gave riveting statements complete with personal stories of how their lives have been affected by MS. The members of Congress applauded those who worked so hard to make MS Awareness week a success and drew attention to the progress that has been made surrounding effective treatment of MS, but also to the fact that more must be done to achieve a world free of MS

Friday, April 16, 2010

State Success: NC Veterans Action Leadership Team

As the North Carolina chapters of the National MS Society advocate for MS research funding through the Department of Defense, veterans living with MS in North Carolina have formed the Veterans Action Leadership Team.

VALT is a self-directed group of volunteers and veterans who are working collaboratively to increase awareness about MS and the information and referral resources of the Society, advise the Society on state and federal policies that directly impact veterans living with MS, and recommend outreach and advocacy strategies for the Carolina chapters.

When one veteran read the group's new brochure, he said, “I wish I saw something like this when I was making the transition from active duty to civilian.” Read more about the VALT here.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ensure Affordable Access to Prescription Medications

On Tuesday April 13, the National MS Society, in collaboration with other patient advocacy organizations, hosted a national call-in day to urge Congress to address the increasing costs of prescription drugs. Reinforce this by emailing your Representative today and asking him/her to cosponsor the Affordable Access to Prescription Medications Act of 2009 (H.R. 3799).

People living with MS could save thousands of dollars a year on their needed prescription medications through this reform. H.R. 3799 would cap monthly out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs at $200 per prescription, or $500 per month for those taking more than one medication. Be sure to email your Representative today.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Contact Senators to Support Family Caregivers

Up to one quarter of individuals living with MS require long-term care services at some point during the course of the disease and often, a family member steps into this caregiver role. Approximately 50 million family caregivers in the nation are responsible for 80% of long-term care. The value of uncompensated family care giving services keeps growing and is currently estimated at $375 billion a year.

The Lifespan Respite Care Act's enactment in 2006 represented a major step forward in recognizing the importance of and addressing the needs of family caregivers. While the law offers a great opportunity, since its creation, it has been severely underfunded.

MS activists achieved substantial support for Lifespan Respite in the U.S. House of Representatives. Contact your Senators today and urge them to support full funding for Lifespan Respite in FY 2011 by signing a Dear Colleague letter circulated by Senator Bob Casey (PA).