HFA Recognizes 2021 Congressional Champions & Hosts Virtual Fly-In

Due to ongoing concerns regarding public gatherings and the impact of COVID-19 on in-person legislative visits, HFA is again holding its annual Patient Fly-In and Congressional Reception experience as an online campaign. The event is taking place from November 15-19, 2021.

On November 16th, grassroots bleeding disorders advocates are participating in Congressional visits by video or conference call. Participants are asking Senators and Representatives to advance policies to make quality health care adequate, affordable, and accessible for all, including people with bleeding disorders. Participants are calling on lawmakers to permanently secure enhanced Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTCs) that were passed in the American Rescue Plan, and to provide coverage for millions of low-income adults, living in non-expansion states, who fall into the Medicaid coverage gap. In addition, HFA is asking legislators to support [soon-to-be-introduced] legislation banning the use of copay accumulator adjuster programs in health plans. This harmful health plan strategy hurts people who rely on copay assistance programs to help them afford their essential medications.

Bleeding disorders community members can still participate in these grassroots efforts by calling, writing, or using social media to reach out to their Congressional delegation to ask for their support. Using HFA's Legislative Action Center, it is as easy as a few clicks of the mouse to participate!

HFA is also hosting a Congressional Reception and Conversation on November 16 to honor members of Congress who have done extraordinary work for those with chronic and expensive conditions. Each of the honorees received the HFA Congressional Champion Award. HFA is pleased to honor these lawmakers for their work to improve access and reduce barriers to care.

Senator Lisa Murkowski

Senator Lisa Murkowski is the first Alaskan-born Senator and only the sixth United States Senator to serve the state. She is a third-generation Alaskan, born in Ketchikan and raised in towns across the state: Wrangell, Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage. Since joining the Senate in 2002, Senator Murkowski has been a strong advocate for Alaska on the important issues facing the state, including energy, health care, education, military/veterans' affairs and infrastructure development. She earned a B.A. in economics from Georgetown University in 1980 and a law degree from Willamette University in 1985. Prior to entering the United States Senate, Senator Murkowski practiced commercial law in Anchorage and was elected to three terms in the Alaska State House of Representatives. She was elected to a full six-year U.S. Senate term in 2004, and was re-elected in 2010 in a historic write-in campaign, the first successful write-in effort to the Senate since 1954.

HFA is honoring Sen. Murkowski for her sponsorship of S. 464, the Safe Step Act. This legislation seeks to place patient protections around the practice of step therapy (sometimes called “fail first”). Step therapy is a health insurer-mandated process that requires patients to take one or more alternative medications chosen by their insurer before permitting patients to access the medicine prescribed by their health care provider. S. 464 as introduced by Sen. Murkowski would protect people with bleeding disorders and other rare diseases by establishing an exemption process; requiring certain exceptions to the step therapy protocols; and requiring a time frame for plans to respond to exception or appeal requests.

Senator Raphael Warnock

Reverend Raphael Warnock grew up in Kayton Homes public housing in Savannah. The family was short on money, but long on faith, love and humor. Raphael and his eleven brothers and sisters were taught the meaning of hard work. Reverend Warnock's father was a veteran, a small businessman, and a preacher. He spent the week hauling old cars to the local steel yard, and on Sundays he preached at a local church. Reverend Warnock's mother grew up in Waycross, where she spent summers picking tobacco and cotton, and still lives in Savannah today. She worked hard to raise Raphael and his siblings to know that they could do anything they put their mind to. When he enrolled at Morehouse College, Reverend Warnock didn't know how he would pay the full tuition. With the help of low-interest student loans and Pell Grants Raphael graduated, earned a Ph.D., and was ordained in the ministry. Over fifteen years ago, he was chosen to serve as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the former pulpit of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He was the youngest pastor selected to serve in that leadership role at the historic church.

Senator Warnock continues to lead the fight to expand health care access by closing the Medicaid coverage gap. Some four million Americans living in 12 non-expansion states currently lack access to affordable health care because they earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, under their states' laws – yet earn too little to qualify for subsidies for marketplace plans. On the Senate floor, in personal appearances, and in the media, Senator Warnock constantly lifts up the stories of real people caught in the coverage gap. HFA honors Senator Warnock for his unflagging efforts to close the coverage gap and provide comprehensive, affordable health coverage and care to all Americans, regardless of their income and state of residence.