Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis patients to rally in Washington

The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) is traveling to Washington, DC June 14th-15th to build support for legislation aimed at better understanding, preventing and curing Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Patients and their families will meet with key health committee members in the House and Senate over the two-day visit.

Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis are difficult, chronic digestive diseases that primarily attack the small and large intestines, causing inflammation, ulceration, and several significant complications. Collectively they are known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

CCFA says the main objective of the visit is to convince key members of Congress to pass the "IBD Bill" before Congress adjourns this year. "Last year's conference was a tremendous success but there is still much to be done in order to improve the quality of life for the estimated one million children and adults affected," said Rodger L. DeRose, president and chief executive officer of CCFA. "This federal legislation represents a significant advancement in gaining support for research, prevention and treatment for these challenging diseases."

If enacted, this legislation would expand IBD research at the National Institutes of Health, establish an IBD prevention program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and require federal studies to investigate the challenges that IBD patients face when seeking insurance for physician-recommended IBD therapies or applying for Social Security Disability.

The Bill was introduced last year in the Senate (S. 491) by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), and in the House (H.R. 290) by Congresswoman Sue Kelly (R-NY) and Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL). Since the introduction the Bill has gained 170 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House and 35 bipartisan co-sponsors in the Senate.

The remainder of the CCFA's time in Washington will include a presentation by Eugene Kestenbaum, Chairperson, CCFA National Board of Trustees, and DeRose, along with three prominent researchers. The presentation will focus on CCFA's strategic plan "Challenges in IBD Research," including progress in genetics and basic and clinical research. A legislative update will follow.

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