Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hatch Kennedy Bill To Help Millions Suffering From Traumatic Brain Injury

Sen. Edward Kennedy's battle with a malignant brain tumour (glioblastoma multiforme) is likely to put a dramatic personal stamp on a health care cause he first championed nearly 40 years ago: The nation's war on cancer.

Kennedy had already begun work on an overhaul of the 1971 National Cancer Act when his tumour was diagnosed, and advocates hope the fact that Kennedy has fallen victim to this disease will generate public support and lend new urgency to the need to update the bill. The 76-year-old Kennedy has been a prominent and passionate advocate of cancer research and other health care issues throughout his long tenure in the Senate.

His name has become virtually synonymous with the push for universal health care coverage. He was a leader in enacting several landmark bills, including the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and the Kennedy-Kassebaum bill protecting workers from losing health insurance when they switch jobs, or from being denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. He's been instrumental in promoting biomedical research, AIDS research and treatment, a national bone marrow donor registry and anti-tobacco bills.

Kennedy has been working closely with Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and plans to file the legislation in the coming weeks. As one of the Senate's shrewdest legislators and dealmakers, Kennedy is known for joining forces with Republicans to win passage of major bills.

The bill Kennedy plans to put forth seeks to improve the coordination of cancer research, prevention and treatment while giving more money to the National Cancer Institute and other public research agencies.

Congress is on a Memorial Day recess, and it is unclear when Kennedy, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, will be back on Capitol Hill. He returned to his family's Hyannis Port, Mass. compound last week after being released from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Kennedy emerged as a leader in winning passage of the National Cancer Act after he became chairman of the Senate's health subcommittee in 1971. At the time, there was wide concern about cancer as the nation's second leading cause of death.

His family has been touched by cancer over the years; two of his children, Kara and Edward Kennedy Jr., are cancer survivors. Edward Kennedy Jr. lost a leg to bone cancer in 1973 at age 12, and Kara was diagnosed with lung cancer five years ago. Both were given a 15 percent chance of survival, but are cancer-free now. The senator threw himself into their care, finding the best medical advice and treatment options for them.

A few weeks ago, Kennedy and Hutchison teamed up with seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong at a Senate hearing and a news conference calling on Congress and the country to step up the fight against cancer. The events were aimed at building support for the bill. Kennedy mentioned how his children overcame the disease. When Kennedy's diagnosis was revealed, Armstrong said renewing the fight against cancer would be a good way to honour the senator.


Hatch-Kennedy Bill

No comments: