When a patient of mine recently moved to California, she asked me to refer her to a specialist who could continue her care. Drs. Vaughn, Hansard, Burger, and I have each noticed that when we provide our patients with a couple of names, they frequently ask us why we chose those particular specialists over many others in the same area. This made us realize that many couples with infertility in Central Texas may be thinking the same thing about TFC – why should they come see us? WHY TFC? In an attempt to answer this question, we wrote an article that you can find on the home page of our website at www.txfertility.com. I have taken the liberty of breaking this article down into smaller blog entries so that patients can read it at their leisure. In this ninth and final blog in this series, I will tell you a little about our advocacy and lobbying roles, as well as the charitable foundation that we have recently established. We believe that each of these issues, as well as those I have outlined over the past several weeks, make us very different from every other fertility practice in the Central Texas area.
Advocacy and Legislative Lobbying
Expanding coverage for fertility patients involves several things – not the least of which is convincing our legislators that infertility is a disease. In the pursuit of this effort, both Dr. Vaughn and Dr. Silverberg have testified repeatedly over the years before the Texas state legislature. Our efforts were rewarded when the legislature passed laws permitting and protecting the use of donor sperm, donor eggs, and donor embryos for the citizens of Texas. Since that time, we have continued to mount an aggressive effort designed to further expand coverage. Our most recent focus has been in Washington DC, where we have actively lobbied for the Fertility Family Act of 2011, which has now been introduced into both houses of Congress for consideration. This act calls for a $13,360 lifetime tax credit for couples who are pursuing fertility treatment – analogous to the credit that couples who pursue adoption currently receive. We have met with our Congressmen, their staffs, and lobbyists who work on behalf of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine to educate them about the importance of this legislation and solicit their support. Dr. Silverberg also serves as an advisor to Congressmen Michael McCaul, Lamar Smith, and John Carter about issues related to healthcare in general. In this capacity, he works to keep them aware of how new legislation such as the Affordable Care Act affect the quality and cost of medical care that the citizens of Central Texas receive. Only TFC physicians have worked to develop these important relationships and spend our time actively working on these issues.
With the establishment of the Fertility Foundation of Texas, a new charitable foundation conceived by TFC, we will soon be able to enlist the assistance of individuals and companies throughout Central Texas to help us raise awareness about infertility as a curable disease. The foundation has three main purposes: to raise awareness about infertility, to provide funding to patients who cannot otherwise afford fertility treatment, and to fund research related to the diagnosis and/or treatment of infertility. Over the years we have been approached by many grateful patients who have wanted to be able to help other, less fortunate couples reach their dreams. This foundation provides a mechanism through which patients, forward thinking companies, and philanthropic entities in our area can help those who continue to struggle with infertility.