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Bilirakis Lauded As Public Servant of the Year

October 2, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC:  Earlier today, the American College of Cardiologists recognized the ongoing efforts of Congressman Gus Bilirakis to improve health care outcomes for all patients as it honored him with the 2018 President’s Award for Distinguished Public Service.  Among many public health initiatives spearheaded by Bilirakis for which he was selected to receive this prestigious award is the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act.  This important legislation addresses the need to invest in continued research to assist the millions of Americans living with Congenital Heart Disease (CHD).  It is estimated that there are currently between 2-3 million adults and children living in the United States with CHD, and nearly 1 in every 100 babies are born with a CHD.  Sadly, five percent of these babies will not live to see their first birthdays. However, due to recent advancements in technology, CHD patients are surviving longer. This legislation seeks to build upon that success by ensuring continued investment in surveillance research to assess the lifelong needs of individuals with CHD.  These surveillance efforts will help improve understanding of CHD across the lifespan, from birth to adulthood.  In addition, the legislation emphasizes the need for continued biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of CHD.  The road ahead may be scary and uncertain for any parent with a newborn who has CHD, but Bilirakis’s meaningful legislation gives hope to those coping with the diagnosis.   It will also expand the infrastructure to track the epidemiology of congenital heart defects. Research is key to understanding the causes of CHD, preventing it and improving treatment.  This vital legislation passed the House in February of this year, and awaits final action in the Senate. 

Better data leads to better research. This bi-partisan initiative is about giving hope to families who have suffered and improving the quality of life for millions of Americans by investing in life-saving research.   I am honored to receive this prestigious award from such a prominent key stakeholder group, in part, because of my work on this legislation. I encourage my Senate colleagues to do the right thing on behalf of sick kids and join me in this fight by sending the bill to the President’s desk as quickly as possible.  I also look forward to continuing to partner with the American College of Cardiologists on a variety of other important initiatives that will improve health care outcomes for millions of Americans,” said Bilirakis.