Why Is Your Action Needed?
Congressional staff have told us that any increase hinges upon Senators hearing directly from constituents on why increased funding for viral hepatitis prevention is needed.
It is urgent that you call now! You can call your Senator toll-free at 1-866-220-0044. You will get the Capitol switchboard. Ask to be connected to your Senator’s office. Ask to speak to the staff person who handles health issues. If you don’t know who your Senator is, you can go online to www.Senate.gov.
Whether you speak to health staff person directly or leave a message, tell him or her:
“My name is and I’m a constituent of Senator . I am calling to urge the Senator to ask the Appropriations Committee to support increased funding for hepatitis prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis prevention has been underfunded and defunded throughout the years. It is currently at $19.3 million and desperately needs $50 million. Hepatitis B and C affect over 5 million Americans and is the leading cause of liver cancer, one of the most deadly, expensive, and fastest growing killers of Americans every year, and the leading cause of liver transplants each year, and a leading cause of death in Americans co-infected with hepatitis and HIV. Money for prevention of hepatitis B and C is critical to providing a public health response like we have for other infectious diseases. This includes public education, counseling, testing, and referral into care. This is important to me personally because________”
If you have any questions, please contact Colin Schwartz or Ryan Clary.
Thank you for taking the time to make these important phone calls!
Background on Federal Funding Process
- President Obama released his budget in February and provided $21 million ($1.8 million increase) for hepatitis prevention at CDC
- 35 members of the House of Representatives have weighed in with House Appropriators asking for $50 million ($31 million increase) for viral hepatitis prevention
- The deadline for Senators to weigh in with Senate Appropriators is Friday, April 16
- Historically, the House provides higher funding levels for hepatitis than the Senate and often the final funding bill splits the difference between the House and Senate funding levels because the Senate funding level is always lower
- Therefore it is imperative that Senators weigh-in in support of increased funding to get the highest possible funding
Background Information on Hepatitis
- Hepatitis B and C affect up to 5.3 million Americans; the vast majority of whom do not know they are infected
- Leads to chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure
- Is the most common cause of liver cancer, which is one of the most lethal, expensive and fastest rising cancers in America
- Is also a leading cause of death in Americans co-infected with HIV and viral hepatitis
- In 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that 43,000 Americans were newly infected with hepatitis B and 17,000 with hepatitis C
- It is estimated that up to 3.9 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C, nearly four times the number of Americans with HIV, and 1.4 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis B
- The baby boomer population is estimated to account for two out of every three cases of chronic hepatitis C and as these Americans continue to age, they are likely to develop complications from hepatitis C and cost Medicare billions of dollars in treatment, transplantation and palliative costs
- The costs of inaction are too high to continue to ignore viral hepatitis
This Action Alert was developed by the Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership. The Hepatitis Appropriations Partnership (HAP) is a national coalition based in Washington, DC and includes community-based organizations, public health and provider associations, national hepatitis and HIV organizations, and diagnostic, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies from all over the country. HAP works with policy makers and public health officials to increase federal support for hepatitis prevention, testing, education, research and treatment. For more information, please contact Colin Schwartz, HAP Coordinator, at 202.434.8005 or cschwartz@NASTAD.org.