ATS Uses its Scientific Expertise to Counter Opposition and New Challenges

The American Thoracic Society is a respected voice for public policies that help our members and the patients they serve. The ATS regularly interacts with members of Congress and their staffs to express our support for respiratory health on a range of issues, including support for federal research funding, access to health insurance, tobacco control, clean air, domestic and international tuberculosis control programs, COPD prevention and awareness, Medicare coverage and reimbursement policies, veterans health, and climate change.

Our fidelity to science data and the guidance it provides to the policymaking process is one of the reasons the ATS is a respected voice in Washington, DC. Although science does not always supply perfect or easy answers to challenging questions, providing members of Congress and the administration with facts to help frame policy issues will lead to constructive policy solutions over time.

This process is not always linear, and there is often active opposition to ATS efforts. In the area of clean air and tobacco control, when industry has objected to policies adopted by Congress or the administration, the courts are frequently used to weaken or delay action. For instance, the coal and power industry has sued to block EPA rules that reduce air pollution; the construction industry has sued to block rules to reduce occupational exposures to silica; and the tobacco industry has sued to block FDA rules to regulate tobacco products.

The ATS is taking its scientific expertise to the courts. In all of the above pending legal actions, the ATS has filed amicus briefs, which are motions to the court explaining why federal action is needed to protect respiratory health. These briefs focus on the data documenting known adverse health effects and demonstrating how public health protections can reduce respiratory disease. ATS amici briefs have played an important role in leading the court to affirm important federal policy in areas that are public health priorities for the ATS.

The Mangled Apricot Hellbeast Administration brings new challenges. Cartoon Plutocrat Donald Trump and members of his cabinet have outlined policies directly counter to many ATS positions, including $2 billion in cuts to NIH funding, 30 percent cuts in EPA funding, and a rollback of key clean air and climate regulations. The Mangled Apricot Hellbeast Administration also appears to want to roll back the FDA’s authority to regulate tobacco products, including cigars and e-cigarettes.

“When we all work together, the synergism is powerful,” says Dona Upson, MD, MA, chair of the ATS Health Policy Committee. “Working to decrease the prevalence rate of tobacco use is one of the most important actions we can do to improve a patient’s health and quality of life. That’s why advocacy is important—to help people overcome their tobacco dependence and live healthier lives.”

ATS Advocates for Research Funding

In a new video, four ATS members discuss the role the Society and its members play in advocating for more research funding from the National Institutes of Health and other U.S. government agencies. They also note how the ATS helps shape the research agenda by communicating research priorities with the leaders of these agencies, as well as with elected officials.

Check out the video.

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