- Last week, patients, physicians, and industry representatives traveled to Washington, DC, to advocate for increased funding for and access to focused ultrasound.
- Four patients shared their impactful stories of receiving focused ultrasound to treat Parkinson’s disease, essential tremor, and prostate cancer.
- The event was hosted by the Foundation in partnership with the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance.
On Thursday, June 15, the Foundation and the Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) partnered to host a Congressional fly-in event to educate US policymakers about the value and potential of focused ultrasound.
A passionate group of patients, physicians, and industry representatives convened in Washington, DC, to advocate for focused ultrasound and share personal stories about the people benefiting from the technology. The group also highlighted the need for widespread payment and coverage necessary to establish patient access. Some of the solutions put forth included encouraging policymakers to support policies that reduce the long lag time between US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval and Medicare coverage, promote focused ultrasound treatment access for veterans and servicemembers, and allocate funds for research. In all, the fly-in secured more than 15 Capitol Hill meetings, including Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jon Tester and Steve Daines of Montana.
Patient voices are crucial to the fly-in events, and four patients participated this year. Familiar faces Beverly McGowan, an essential tremor patient, and Thomas Newell, a prostate cancer patient, have both joined past fly-in events. Bobby Krause and Tom Donegan also took part in the event this year to share their stories of receiving focused ultrasound to treat Parkinson’s disease and bilateral essential tremor, respectively.
Beverly, a Montana resident, was able to participate in a special coffee reception hosted by her state’s Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines. She is passionate about advocating for reimbursement for innovative therapies. When she sought treatment for her tremors in 2018, the procedure was not covered by Medicare, and she used a Go Fund Me page to crowd-source more than $25,000 for her treatment.
“This noninvasive treatment is effective, immediate, and life changing,” Beverly said in her patient story. “We need to have it covered by Medicare and private insurance companies so that it is accessible to the population in need. All physicians, and especially neurologists, need to know about it and know how and where to refer patients. I have made it a part of my personal mission to educate others about focused ultrasound.”
This is the fourth fly-in event that the Foundation has hosted with MITA. The first two were held in- person in 2019 and 2020, and the event went virtual in 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two organizations officially formed a partnership in 2018 with the goal of raising awareness of focused ultrasound technology among policymakers, payers, and medical specialty societies. The partnership has laid important groundwork to reduce barriers to commercialization and increase patient access to focused ultrasound therapies.
“We had a great day,” said the Foundation’s Managing Director for Government Affairs and Chief Scientific Officer, Jessica Foley, PhD. “The patients’ powerful stories went a long way toward demonstrating the need for policy changes that will provide more widespread access to lifesaving and life-changing technologies like focused ultrasound.
Our governmental advocacy efforts have played an increasing role in how the Foundation can support growth of our field while shortening the time to widespread patient access. We have been fortunate to collaborate with leading advocacy organizations like MITA who have the expertise and relationships to help us accomplish these goals.”