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Former 'Nightline' anchor and wife meet with Senator about COPD bill

Washington, DC - Well-known national broadcaster Ted Koppel and his wife, Grace Anne Dorney Koppel, met with Idaho Senator Mike Crapo Thursday to discuss support and strategy for passing S. 329, Crapo's bill that improves treatment options for Americans suffering with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD. Mrs. Koppel was diagnosed with COPD in 2001. Since that time, Mr. and Mrs. Koppel have been advocates for awareness and treatment of COPD.

Crapo's legislation, the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation Act, would formally establish pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation as a specific Medicare benefit category, ensuring consistent and nationwide access to rehabilitation services. Because the measure addresses Medicare provisions, it is before the Senate Finance Committee, of which Crapo is a member.

"Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services are low cost treatment options offering significant benefits to patients," Crapo said. "Those who suffer lung cancer or cystic fibrosis, as well as heart attacks and bypass surgery, should have access to these rehabilitation programs through Medicare. We can save lives and lower future spending for these medical conditions by the use of rehabilitative services."

"I have COPD and did take a pulmonary rehabilitation program when I was diagnosed. It was, for me, the single most important step that I took toward understanding and dealing with my disease," said Mrs. Koppel. "Senator Crapo's leadership in initiating legislation providing for pulmonary rehabilitation will make the quality of life for countless others who suffer from COPD better than it has ever been. Medicare and many private insurers won't pay for this treatment. If we can identify and treat COPD with the medical arsenal at our disposal, many who now suffer now with COPD will enjoy productive lives. Thank you Senator Crapo."

Crapo's bill presently has 33 Senate co-sponsors, 11 of which join him as members of the Finance Committee. The bill is also supported by numerous groups including the American Lung Association, Alpha-1 Foundation, American Association of Respiratory Care, American Thoracic Society, National Association for Medical Direction of Respiratory Care, American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and the US COPD Coalition.

Mr. Koppel now reports for National Public Radio. He also serves as Managing Editor for the Discovery Channel and as a contributor to the New York Times. Mrs. Koppel has advocated for COPD treatment across the country and urges Americans to become better informed about COPD. For more information about COPD, visit the website of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's initiative to inform patients, those at risk and health care professionals about COPD.