UPDATE: HR 2239 did not pass in the 112th Congress. In February 2013, the Act was reintroduced in the 113th Congress as HR 842. Please see the March 2, 2013 post or click on the HR 842 category on the blog sidebar for updated information.
Last week IFFGD reported that Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2) and Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3) have signed on as cosponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011.
Representative Hirono’s district, the 2nd Congressional District of Hawai’i, encompasses the northern and western parts of the island of O‘ahu, and the islands of Hawai‘i, Kaua‘i, Lana‘i, Maui, Molokai, and Kaho‘olawe, and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. She is a member of the House Rural Health Care Coalition. Representative Kind’s district, the 3rd Congressional District of Wisconsin, represents the western part of the state, including La Crosse, Eau Claire and Platteville. He is a member of the Subcommittee on Health of the House Committee of Ways and Means. Both also have a record of supporting legislation of concern to veterans. As previously discussed on this blog on August 12, 2011 and August 25, 2011, military service members and veterans are at disproportionately high risk for functional gastrointestinal disorders like IBS, which are already very common in the general population
If you are a constituent of Representative Hirono or Representative Kind, please take a few minutes to write or call her or him with your thanks for the support of HR 2239.
In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Hirono and Representative Kind join the lead sponsor, Representative F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI-5) and co-sponsors, Representative James Moran (D-VA-8), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Representative Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL-2), Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI-2), Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22), Representative Nan Hayworth (R-NY-19), Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO-7), and Representative David Price (D-NC-4). U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Hirono and Representative Kind’s colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.
According to the information on THOMAS, it appears that the bill is currently under consideration in the Subcommittee on Health. If you would like to see a list of the members of that Subcommittee, click here and scroll down to the fourth subcommittee listing.
U. S. citizens, if your Member of Congress is not yet a co-sponsor of HR 2239 and you have not contacted him or her recently to ask for his or her support, please see these previous posts from July 6, 2011 and March 6, 2012 for links to the bill and more details on how to do so. Often, it takes multiple attempts to elicit any interest from legislators, so if you do not receive a reply, do not hesitate to try again or to switch contact methods until you attract attention.
Your personal experiences as a person with IBS and/or other functional GI/motility disorders, or as a concerned family member, friend or colleague, are most effective in communicating to legislators and their staff that there are real human beings behind the statistics. However, even general expressions of support are helpful.
HR 2239 is bipartisan legislation (supported by members of both parties) and according to IFFGD discussions with IBS Impact, is “revenue-neutral,” meaning that there will be no additional taxes or spending added to the current federal deficit if it is enacted. Discretionary funds are available at the National Institutes of Health to be allocated if Congress directs NIH, through this Act, that functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders are a priority. Congress will only do so if we, as a community, are able to show them the importance of the research, education and FDA coordination provided for in HR 2239.
NIH grants funding to researchers throughout the world, not just in the U.S., so in the long run, enactment of this Act may also benefit readers with IBS in other countries. Medical research also sometimes involves multinational teams of scientists, and in any case, study results are usually published globally, adding to the cumulative knowledge worldwide.
It is IBS Impact’s understanding that HR 2239 will most likely not require a debate or vote on the floor of the House of Representatives, and will pass as soon as it reaches 219 sponsor/cosponsors, or a simple majority of the House. In order for this milestone to be accomplished during the current Congress, the 112th, the necessary number of sponsor/cosponsors must be reached by December 2012. Beginning in January 2013, the Congressional membership will be different as a result of the upcoming 2012 elections. Thus, a similar bill will have to be reintroduced and the FGIMD community will have to start the process of gathering cosponsors anew. While it is quite common for legislation of various sorts to take several Congresses to pass, our continuing advocacy now can increase awareness, build momentum and perhaps accelerate passage. It is in our hands.
Check back on this blog or join IBS Impact’s Yahoo discussion group for further updates on HR 2239 as they occur.