Policy Communications

AASLD addresses a wide range of policies that affect researchers, clinicians, and patients, by focusing on issues critical to the science and practice of hepatology. In our advocacy work, we engage with Congress and members of the executive branch to influence legislation and implement federal programs to advance AASLD's core missions. The Public Policy Committee informs these efforts by prioritizing issues of importance, providing subject matter expertise, and playing an active role in AASLD’s advocacy activities.

Latest Efforts

AASLD is committed to educating Congress and key federal officials on the growing burden of liver disease, to inform policies that support research and treatment of hepatic disorders. Along these lines, the Public Policy Committee has recently:

  • Held a virtual Capitol Hill Day in March 2022, during which AASLD members, patients, and representatives of partnering patient advocacy organizations met with many Congressional offices.
  • Submitted testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees expressing our support for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 appropriations for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Hepatitis; and
  • Launched an advocacy campaign supporting Congressional action to create a national liver disease strategy.

Combatting Liver Disease: Alcohol-Associated Liver Disease

On Tuesday, September 20, AASLD sponsored the first Congressional briefing in their Combatting Liver Disease series for policy makers focusing on alcohol-associated liver disease. Moderated by AASLD Governing Board President Dr. Laurie DeLeve, speakers included:

  • Dr. George Koob, Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  • Dr. Vijay Shah, Mayo Clinic (AASLD Board Treasurer)
  • Dr. Jessica Mellinger, University of Michigan (AASLD Member)
  • Brian Bourgault, a person living with ALD

Speakers briefed the audience on changes to the ALD population, the challenges of securing funding for ALD-related research, and the perspective of someone who lives with a liver transplant due to ALD. Additional discussion focused on the future of digital health and AI in clinical trials and managing patient care for people who are at risk or develop ALD.

RECORDING LINK: HERE

Advocacy for Telehealth

Telehealth flexibilities have improved access to hepatology specialists during the COVID-19 pandemic and will remain an important tool for delivering comprehensive care to patients with liver disease. In March 2022, Congress approved a 151-day extension of certain telehealth flexibilities, including the elimination of the originating site and geographic restrictions and coverage of audio-only services, once the public health emergency concludes. AASLD will continue to advocate for these flexibilities as well as continued payment parity between in-person and telehealth services.

Telehealth Stakeholder Letter to the Senate

AASLD Weighs in on ARPA-H

President Biden proposed the creation of a new research accelerator called the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H) in his Fiscal Year 2022 budget request. Congress appropriated the first $1 billion for the new entity in its FY 2022 omnibus spending package. AASLD supports the new entity in concept and believes it has the potential to advance our understanding of liver disease. However, the society is concerned that funding for the new entity will supplant, not supplement, money for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). To prevent the lines between the two entities from blurring, AASLD is advocating for ARPA-H to be placed outside NIH.

Policy Agenda

Each year, the Public Policy Committee develops a policy agenda, which is then approved by the Governing Board, to guide our annual advocacy activities. While the agenda serves as a framework for implementing strategic initiatives, it is recognized that AASLD is prepared to respond dynamically to unforeseen opportunities or threats that may reshape its actions.

Efforts Around COVID-19 

In a joint letter to Congress [PDF], AASLD, American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) call on policymakers to protect you, your colleagues, and patients from COVID-19 by:

  • Increasing funding for and access to personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Easing prior authorization and Medicare reporting requirements
  • Providing financial safeguards for health care professionals and practices.

AASLD joins 200 Organizations in Letter to Administration regarding PPE and Ventilators

AASLD joins 160 Organizations in Support of Long-Term Funding for America's Public Health Infrastructure

AASLD and the rest of the Coalition for Health Funding write to Congress regarding Funding for CDC, NIH, HRSA, NASEM, USAID and Others

AASLD advocates to CDC to ensure that patients with liver-related illnesses are included among vulnerable populations in need of testing services

COVID-19 Checklists and Tools to Accelerate Relief for State Medicaid & CHIP Programs

On Monday, March 30, 2020, CMS released an interim final rule and blanket waivers to provide additional flexibilities to providers during the COVID-19 emergency. AASLD’s Government Relations Consultant CRD Associates prepared this summary [PDF].
CMS released additional waivers on April 9. All of the waivers can be found online [PDF].

Joint GI Society Message: CMS encouraged to pay for telehealth services at level with in-person visits

Joint GI Society Message: COVID-19 Telehealth Information for Gastroenterologists and Gastroenterology Care Providers