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.
Representatives Elijah Cummings (D-MD-7) and Susan Davis (D-CA-53) have recently become co-sponsors to the Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders Research Enhancement Act of 2011.
Representative Cummings represents Maryland’s 7th District, which includes parts of the city of Baltimore, Baltimore County and Howard County. According to Representative Cummings’ official website, he has a past record of supporting other legislation concerning health care for veterans. Persian Gulf era service members and veterans are disproportionately affected by functional gastrointestinal disorders, including IBS, as discussed by this blog on August 12, 2011 and August 25, 2011.
Representative Davis represents California’s 53rd District, which includes much of San Diego County, including about half of the city of San Diego and south to the U.S-Mexico border, Lemon Grove, Imperial Beach and Coronado. According to Representative Davis’ official website, she is the ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel, and has a past history of supporting much legislation on behalf of veterans, as well as health care, including medical research budgets for the National Institutes of Health, and women’s issues. In most countries, women comprise approximately two-thirds of adults with IBS.
If you are a constituent of Representative Cummings or Representative Davis, please take a few minutes to write or call with your thanks for the support of HR 2239.
In officially supporting HR 2239, Representative Cummings and Representative Davis 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), 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), Representative David Price (D-NC-4), Representative Mazie Hirono (D-HI-2), Representative Ron Kind (D-WI-3), Representative Dan Boren, (D-OK-2), and Representative Bill Posey (R-FL 15) U.S. citizens residing in the districts of Representative Cummings’ and Representative Davis’ colleagues listed here, please thank them as well.
According to the information on THOMAS, the Library of Congress legislative database, 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. As of October 2012, IFFGD/DHA has advised IBS Impact that reintroduction is expected sometime in 2013. 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.