On Nov. 9 and 10, 2021, a diverse group of sleep health advocates held virtual Capitol Hill visits with 11 congressional offices to advocate for legislative policies and issues important to AASM members and the larger sleep community. The meetings built on the productive discussions that were held during the AASM’s virtual Hill Day in April.
Participants included members of the AASM Advocacy Committee, Public Awareness Advisory Committee, Public Safety Committee, and Political Action Committee Advisory Panel, as well as patient advocates representing several patient advocacy organizations: Alliance of Sleep Apnea Partners, Circadian Sleep Disorders Network, Hypersomnia Foundation, RLS Foundation, and Wake Up Narcolepsy. Groups of AASM members and patient advocates discussed and shared their personal stories in relation to a variety of AASM legislative and policy priorities and other issues of importance related to specific sleep disorders.
Advocates focused heavily on the importance of expanded telehealth provisions, including the need for telemedicine provisions from the COVID-19 public health emergency to be made permanent. Advocates specifically discussed the Telehealth Modernization Act, which would protect telehealth access for rural patients and remove Medicare’s geographic and originating site restrictions. Several patient advocates shared their personal experience and explained the need for expanded telehealth coverage, which underscored the impact of telemedicine on people’s everyday lives.
Congressional Sleep Health Caucus
A little over a year ago, the Congressional Sleep Health Caucus was formed, and since that time, the AASM has been working to recruit members of Congress to join. The caucus provides an avenue for members of Congress to stay up to date with issues and legislation important to the sleep community. The caucus recently hosted its first briefing on sleep health in the pandemic and will continue to host additional briefings in the future on topics such as daylight saving time, school start times, and sleep health disparities. Several offices expressed interest in the caucus, and the AASM secured one pledge to join.
Some meetings focused on the recent Philips PAP device recall as advocates described the situation and its impact on patients with sleep apnea. Discussion also focused on how the federal government may address issues that have resulted from the recall, as well as how similar situations may be prevented in the future.
Daylight Saving Time
With these visits occurring directly after the Nov. 7 change back to standard time, many offices were interested in discussing daylight saving time. Advocates described the negative effects of the time change on the American people and the need for permanent standard time, as detailed in the AASM’s daylight saving time position statement.
Visit the Advocacy page to get more information on the AASM’s legislative and policy priorities and to participate in our current campaigns. AASM members can submit questions about these issues to email@example.com.