Through advocacy, we work to create and preserve laws and policies that protect our health. Every year, we fight for legislation and policies that protect our children from deadly air pollution and tobacco products, advocate for funding for critical lung disease research and health programs at the federal level, and much more. With a change in the presidential administration, much of our energy has been spent on defending progress we made in previous years.
A top priority this past year was fighting to protect quality, affordable healthcare for all Americans, especially the more than 32 million with lung disease. In May, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which would have gutted healthcare protections and left 23 million more Americans uninsured. In response, we launched a multi-front advocacy plan that included a special advocacy day where our volunteers visited their Members of Congress to share why they need healthcare, a statement urging the Senate to reject the AHCA, a letter to the Senate about the importance of patient protections, a nationwide call in day to Congress and many other tactics. Our efforts helped prevent a similar Senate bill from passing, and we are pushing for Congress to work on a bipartisan bill to improve the healthcare system.
Rapid Response Team to Save Our LungsTo respond quickly and strategically to new threats to our health policy priorities, we created the Save Our Lungs Team, a highly-motivated team of volunteer advocates who have agreed to quickly call their members of Congress when alerted of a critical issue by the Lung Association. We now have more than 600 members representing all 50 states.
In August 2016, the Food and Drug Administration’s deeming rule took effect, which at long last gave the agency oversight authority over all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars and other tobacco products. However, once taking office, Trump Administration delayed the implementation of the tobacco deeming rule, raising significant concerns for the Lung Association and our partners. In response, over 50 groups – including the Lung Association – sent a letter to then HHS Secretary Price expressing grave concern that the Administration appeared to be reconsidering the rule. The Lung Association and our partners also petitioned to intervene in some of the legal challenges brought by the tobacco industry against the rule.
This year, our Healthy Air Campaign continued to fight for healthy air for all Americans. Major efforts included a Declaration on Climate Change and Health, created with health partners and hand-delivered by their leaders to the EPA Administrator. It highlights health impacts of climate change and calls on leaders to defend the Clean Air Act and supporting action on climate change.