5 msfocusmagazine.org Amongthebetterone-linersusedtodescribe 2017 is one quoting an old Bette Davis film, All About Eve: “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” Well, 2017 provided plenty of bumps. Severe hurricanes affected lives along the Gulf coast and Caribbean. Hit especially hard were the folks in Houston and Puerto Rico, both of which have a significant population of persons with MS. Aid distribution – particularly in Puerto Rico – has faced extraordinary challenges. Sadly, the recovery is still a work in progress. Despite polls indicating a majority favor the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), a new president and a majority in Congress were determined to repeal and replace it. While substantial time and energywent into various failed attempts to do so, no viable alternative healthcare plan was offered. More recently, Congress passed tax reform legislation, which eliminated the provision requiringAmericans to obtain health insurance. This will result in fewer healthy individuals signing up, which will likely increase Obamacare premiums. Though not unscathed, some say the mere fact that Obamacare survived 2017 at all is nothing short of a miracle. We will leave it to the experts to debate who really stands to gain long-term from tax reform. However, some question its effect on charitable giving.With the standard deduction doubling in size, fewer peoplewill be itemizing their deductions on their tax returns. Thus, for some, there may be less of an incentive to donate. Similarly,with the estate tax deduction having been doubled, there may be a similar effect on charitable bequests. Time will tell, but charitable giving fueled by empathy and sympathy pre-dates tax codes. It is ingrained in most of us, and as such we have reason to be optimistic Americans, as a whole, will continue their support of worthy causes. Between the bumps of 2017, therewas good news as well – starting with the long-awaited revised estimate of the MS population in the U.S.Nowestimatedatonemillion,thisconfirms what healthcare experts have long suspected. Here at MS Focus, the past year saw a dramatic increase in our national presence, in response to our outreach initiatives. Most noteworthy were a 112 percent average increase in users of ourwebsites, a 22 percent increase in subscribers to ourfree publications, and a 26 percent increase in social media followers.Additionally, 28 new support groups joined our national network. As our presence grew, our programs and services continued to make a difference to more people. We are poised to continue ourgoodwork and navigate around any bumps that may lie on the road ahead in 2018. Jules Kuperberg Co-Executive Director Alan R. Segaloff Co-Executive Director Takeaways From 2017