On March 4 we hosted National Advocacy Day in Washington, D.C. While we were rallying at our nation’s capitol, this effort spanned the entire US as members of the TS community contacted their elected officials to urge their participation in the 2020 Public Policy priorities. Collectively these visits to elected officials, as well as letters, emails and other methods of outreach were instrumental in achieving a record number of signers in the House and Senate supporting the Fiscal Year 2021 continued funding of $2 million for the CDC Tourette Syndrome Public Health Education and Research Program! We experienced record numbers with 108 bipartisan Members of Congress, and 25 Democratic Senators, signing onto the letters of support for the funding.
While the regular FY21 appropriations process could be delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are thrilled with the outcomes from National Advocacy Day. The House Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, which funds the CDC Tourette Syndrome Public Health Education and Research Program, may hold their FY21 mark-up in May. The Senate LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee will likely hold their FY21 LHHS mark-up in June. These dates assume their return to Washington.
Once the process is back on track, we will need your help once again! We will call on our community to join us in sending additional emails asking Representatives and Senators to reach out to appropriators to remind them of the need for support for the CDC Program. Stay tuned for a request for more outreach.
In addition to the Advocacy Day efforts, the TAA has been working with a number of patient groups and non-profit organizations to ensure economic stimulus funding includes non-profit organizations, education funding and expanded telehealth coverage. We were pleased to see inclusion of several provisions beneficial to non-profit organizations like TAA in the CARES Act.
Congress is already working toward the next economic stimulus bill (often referred to as COVID-IV) extending additional funding to CARES programs including small businesses/non-profit organizations, states, hospitals, education, individuals and unemployment insurance. Other programming and additional funding might also be added to the COVID-4 bill including surprise billing and infrastructure. We hope to have additional stimulus/funding provisions for non-profit organizations provided in the next economic stimulus bill. Coming to agreement between the parties and between the House and Senate could create delays or alter the landscape of the legislation. In the interim before the fourth bill is passed, there will likely be a separate standalone bill that simply adds money to the small business loan program incorporated in the CARES Act to ensure the program has funding once the initial $350 B is exhausted as early as next week.
The economic bills will run separate from the regular Appropriations process. Congress was scheduled to return to Washington on April 20, however, Congress recently announced a new return date of May 4. We will keep you posted of progress in upcoming Tourette Connect newsletters.