TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred Madden (D-Gloucester, Camden) that would establish the New Jersey Multiple Sclerosis Task Force in the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) was voted out of the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee today.
“With so much still unknown about multiple sclerosis, those who suffer from it face constant challenges everyday. We have a responsibility to help them meet those challenges through whatever aid and assistance we can provide. The Task Force is a common sense, cost free way to begin providing that assistance,” said Madden.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, often disabling, disease that attacks the central nervous system. The body, through its immune system, launches a defensive and damaging attack against its own tissues. The cause of MS remains unknown; however, having a first-degree relative, such as a parent or sibling, with MS significantly increases a person’s risk of developing the disease. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, it is estimated that there are approximately 250,000 to 350,000 persons in the United States who are diagnosed with MS. This estimate suggests that approximately 200 new cases are diagnosed each week.
Under the legislation, S-2212, the task force would develop strategies to identify and address the unmet needs of individuals with MS in order to provide them with greater access to various treatments and other therapeutic options. The task force would focus on issues impacting the productivity and independence of individuals with MS. It would also review issues impacting emotional, social, and vocational challenges of persons with MS.
The 14 member task force would include state health officials, representatives of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and individuals living with MS, among others. The task force would report its findings and recommendations to the governor and the Legislature no later than 12 months after its initial meeting. The task force would dissolve upon the issuance of the report.
The legislation now heads to the full Senate for a vote.