Autoimmune disease patients received a win recently when U.S. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY) introduced House Bill 6218 to Congress. The bill would create an interdepartmental autoimmune disease coordinating committee. The governmental agency committee would include the Assistant Secretary of Health, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs and the Director of the National Institutes of Health among others. Its purpose would be to assess national progress on autoimmune disease research, update the national strategic plan, and make recommendations that could possibly be used to develop a national curriculum on autoimmune disease. The bill does have bi-partisan support. Buerkle has a very personal reason for initiating House Bill 6218.
"My late sister, Mary Colella, started experiencing symptoms of multiple sclerosis at the age of twelve. Her dreams were cut short by the disease, but she lived her remaining years, twenty of which were spent as a quadriplegic, with grace and dignity," says Buerkle. "Her life inspires me to help keep a national focus on autoimmune diseases, which is why I have introduced this legislation to increase awareness and education about autoimmune diseases."
"Army Wives" star and AARDA spokesperson, Kellie Martin, believes that the bill is a step in the right direction.
"I am very pleased that the bill will provide for the development of a curriculum for health professionals as I feel that my sister should have been diagnosed when she first developed symptoms, and that timely diagnosis might have saved her life," says Martin.