Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA)

Senator Ted Kennedy: A friend to people with asthma, allergies and COPD

Published August - 27 - 2009 Print This Post

nancy1Among the many tributes to Sen. Ted Kennedy, AANMA would like to acknowledge his friendship and support of our organization, especially over the past 12 years.

The Senator and his staff had a refreshingly down-to-earth approach when it came to addressing our concerns about ensuring patient access to specialty care, appropriate medications, immunotherapy and diagnostic services. They were always responsive in our efforts to make sure that all patients with these conditions have access to the care they need.His compassion no doubt came from a personal appreciation of what it means to be a father and watch your son struggle to breathe, run, swim or keep up with schoolwork due to relentless asthma and allergy symptoms. His son is Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), and together they co-chaired AANMA’s annual Asthma Awareness Day Capitol Hill, during which we kicked off the annual asthma screening program sponsored by the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

TedSen. Kennedy didn’t just listen–he acted. He and former Sen. Mike DeWine (R-OH) co-authored, with Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL)], the ASTHMA Act of 2004, which became a public law protecting students’ rights to carry and self administer lifesaving asthma and anaphylaxis medications as prescribed by their physicians.

Both Kennedys were concerned when AANMA showed them evidence that some companies were mass manufacturing illegal copies of FDA-approved nebulizer medications–and that patients were getting sicker as a result. Sen. Kennedy, along with Sen. Burr (R-NC) and Roberts(R-KS), drafted legislation that sparked a discussion about traditional pharmacy compounding. Although the legislation never moved forward, the process eventually led to the financial incentive of Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement for elimination of these copies. Click here to see a related video.

When AANMA launched a national children’s art and essay contest, Sen. Kennedy was one of the judges and wrote an essay of his own in the book we subsequently published, “How Asthma Makes Me Feel.”

These are but a few of the ways we will remember a great man. And as healthcare reform efforts move forward, we hope you will join us in reminding President Obama to keep it real: Take the time necessary to ensure a patient-centered process so we do not suffer unintended consequences. Make sure that we have unobstructed access to our healthcare providers, allergists, as well as the medications and the advancements and diagnostic tests that we so greatly need.

To receive information about AANMA’s advocacy efforts, contact us here.