Dear Mr. Rojo:
Thank you for sharing with me your personal experience
with autoimmune diseases and for contacting me in support of
H.R. 7078, the Prevention, Awareness, and Research of
Autoimmune Diseases Act of 2008. I appreciate hearing from you
and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
Like you, I believe that we must join together in the fight
against autoimmune diseases by supporting programs that increase
public awareness and research initiatives that focus on early
detection and treatment. Autoimmune diseases affect as many as
23.5 million Americans and encompass more than 100 interrelated
diseases, including lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis,
Sjogren's syndrome, polymyositis, pemphigus, myasthenia gravis,
Wegener's granulomatosis, psoriasis, celiac disease, autoimmune
platelet disorders, scleroderma, alopecia areata, vitiligo,
autoimmune thyroid disease, and sarcoidosis. According to the
National Institutes of Health (NIH), autoimmune diseases are
collectively one of the top 10 leading causes of death in women
under age 65 and account for at least $100 billion in annual direct
health care costs.
You may be pleased to learn that I am a strong supporter of
H.R. 7078, which was introduced by Congressman Patrick
Kennedy (D-RI) on September 25, 2008. If enacted, this legislation
would support public awareness initiatives, as well as efforts to
increase rates of early detection of certain autoimmune diseases.
Specifically, this legislation would focus on minority communities
that may be underserved or disproportionately affected by
autoimmune diseases. H.R. 7078 would call for research on
environmental triggers of these diseases, such as heavy metals,
phthalates, and pharmaceuticals, some of which are known to
"trigger" the initiation of autoimmune disease in genetically
predisposed individuals. Finally, this legislation would authorize
grants and institute a loan repayment program to support the
education of health care providers on potential links between
autoimmune diseases and cognitive and mood disorders, such as
depression. This legislation is currently pending before the House
Committee on Energy and Commerce. Please be assured that I will
keep our shared support for increased public awareness and
research of autoimmune diseases very much in mind as Congress
considers health issues.
Thank you again for contacting me. As your
Representative in the United States Congress, it is a privilege and
an honor to serve you and to act as your voice in Washington.
Please feel free to contact me again with any other issue or matter
that concerns you. You may also want to visit my website at
www.house.gov/rothman where you can find out how I have voted
on legislation, learn which bills I have introduced and
cosponsored, and keep current with my latest Congressional
activities and policy statements.
Steven R. Rothman
Member of Congress
It's sort of a generic letter that I'm sure you can reuse to whoever inquired about his thoughts on the bill but I'll take it!
here is the letter I originally sent him in Oct