ELSA Passes Significant Congressional Milestones
Over the past month, one of ASPS's major federal priorities, the Ensuring Lasting Smiles Act (ELSA), has achieved several significant milestones in Congress. The bill took a major step forward on Wednesday, February 26 when Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN), ELSA's lead sponsor in the House of Representatives, filed a motion to place ELSA on the House Consensus Calendar. The Consensus Calendar provides a pathway for a House vote and places the bill on the calendar after 25 legislative days. The fact that the legislation achieved support from more than 290 sponsors (two-thirds of the House) enabled use of this new process in Congress. ELSA is only the twelfth bill to have such a motion filed.
ASPS continues to educate members of Congress and request their support of ELSA. The legislation now has more than 300 cosponsors and was endorsed by the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators committed to finding common ground on important issues. ASPS President Lynn Jeffers, MD, MBA, FACS penned an op-ed promoting awareness of ELSA and sharing ASPS's Patients of Courage awardee Peter Dankelson's story which appeared in Morning Consult in observance of World Birth Defects Day on March 3. ASPS' social media campaign for the World Birth Defects Day op-ed reached 4,000 people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
The House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over ELSA, held a markup of the bill on March 11 and favorably reported it to the full committee for consideration. During the markup panel members committed to working in a bipartisan manner to tighten the bill language to guard against any unintended consequences. The committee will continue to work on the legislation before the full committee's consideration. While Congress is currently focused on mitigating the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, ASPS remains in contact with the committee about next steps for ELSA.