Sen. Dick Durbin Signs On as Co-Chair of COPD Congressional Caucus

June 22, 2011

Washington, DC – June 22, 2011 – Today, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) officially became the Co-Chair of the Congressional COPD Caucus. The Caucus serves as a platform for the community of patients affected by Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) to voice their concerns.

“Approximately 24 million Americans—including 557,120 people in Illinois—are living with COPD," says Senator Dick Durbin. "While there is no cure, the causes are largely preventable. Prevention starts with protecting the air we breathe and I have long been committed to that effort during my time in Congress. I look forward to pursuing that effort further as I join Senator Crapo as a Co-Chair of the Senate Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Caucus.”

The Congressional COPD Caucus was created in 2004 by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) as a bipartisan, bicameral way to raise awareness of COPD. Senator Crapo was joined by then-Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Representative Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Representative John Lewis (D-GA) in the House. The Caucus has addressed the need to ease air travel with supplemental oxygen, made pulmonary rehabilitation a permanent benefit for Medicare beneficiaries, and enhanced data collection that will assist with tailoring the public health response to COPD.

“The COPD Foundation is excited that Senator Durbin has become Co-Chair of the COPD Congressional Caucus,” says John W. Walsh, president and cofounder for the COPD Foundation. “With his strong bipartisan leadership, we look forward to making progress on engaging the government in support of our efforts for more research, early diagnosis, prevention and improved access to treatment for those living with COPD.”

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is one of the world’s largest healthcare concerns and its threat continues to worsen each year. According to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in December 2010, COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. An estimated 24 million Americans live with COPD, and a total 210 million are affected worldwide.

“COPD patients across Illinois have joined Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago in advocating for lung-friendly policies at the local, state and federal levels,” says Joel Africk, president and CEO of Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. “On behalf of the estimated one million Illinoisans living with COPD, we applaud Senator Durbin’s continued commitment to lung health.”

Along with the U.S. COPD Coalition, the Foundation is working on authorizing legislation that we hope will be introduced in this session of Congress. The legislation is comprehensive and crosses most federal agencies to ensure that COPD is recognized and addressed as the third leading cause of death.

“This is a great win for the community,” Walsh says. “Senator Durbin will fill the gap in leadership left by Senator Blanche Lincoln, who did not win her re-election bid in 2010, and allow the Congress to continue tackling COPD.”

More information about the Congressional COPD Caucus can be found on the U.S. COPD Coalition’s website.

About COPD
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and the only chronic disease growing in mortality. It affects approximately 24 million Americans but only 12 million are diagnosed. COPD includes chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and adult onset (refractory) asthma. Symptoms include breathlessness, wheezing, and chronic coughing. Visit or call 1-866-316-COPD (2673).

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