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Jennifer Kline, Published December 04 2010

High praise for Sen. Dorgan’s work for people living with MS

The North Central States Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society would like to applaud Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, D-N.D., for his lengthy and esteemed public service in the United States Congress and for his bold and committed leadership on behalf of the 2,500 North Dakotans living with multiple sclerosis.

First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980 and subsequently voted into the Senate in 1992, Dorgan has long advocated that all individuals deserve access to quality, affordable health care. He has fought to oppose cuts and negative changes to Medicare, has urged improvement to the backlog of Social Security disability claims, and has led initiatives that aim to eliminate the payment disparity between urban and rural providers.

To people living with MS, Dorgan has not only been an ally and supporter but, without doubt, a zealous champion. As a founding member and the co-chair of the Congressional MS Caucus for over three years, Dorgan has helped to shape and lead this group, which has grown to an impressive 23 members in the Senate and 133 members in the House of Representatives. The MS Caucus, true to its mission, has raised awareness about MS, actively engaged in discussions about access to quality health care, and sought creative solutions to the challenges facing people living with MS and their families.

Dorgan has also advocated for more robust data to help better inform researchers about the origin and demographics of people living with MS, by introducing and urging advancement of the National MS and Parkinson’s Disease Registries Act (S. 1273). A policy priority for the National MS Society, this legislation would establish a national coordinated system to collect the number and characteristics of people living with MS and other neurological conditions, offering a foundation for evaluating many factors, such as geographic clusters of MS diagnoses, variances in the gender ratio, disease burden, and changes in health care practices.

While Dorgan is retiring from the U.S. Congress, his leadership and legacy are greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten. Through several legislative victories and because of his robust commitment, Dorgan has certainly helped move us closer to a world free of MS.

Kline is president of the North Central States Chapter, National MS Society.