We can’t change the direction of the wind, but we can adjust our sails.
Explore this issueThe Rheumatologist: Vol 11 – No 6 – June 2017
The origin of this proverb is unclear. Some citations link it to ancient Hindu philosophers, and others suggest the origin may be closer to home (i.e., Jimmy Dean or Dolly Parton). Nonetheless, the sentiment is apt: We are living in an almost-unprecedented time in which troubling policies emerge in an unrelenting succession. Like a series of tropical storms, such policies threaten our workforce, patient access to healthcare and the rheumatology research central to the breakthroughs our patients envision.
The ACR, and by extension the ARHP, has earned the reputation on the Hill of being a politically active, but reliably nonpartisan organization. Over the years, we have forged strong relationships with congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle. These relationships have enabled the ACR to successfully advocate for our members and their patients. Volunteers serving on various committees, including the Committee on Government Affairs, RheumPAC, the Affiliate Society Council, the Committee on Rheumatologic Care, the Board of Directors and the Executive Committees, have successfully lobbied for numerous causes that advance rheumatology practice and research.
The ACR has a time-tested process with checks and balances to develop positions on pertinent issues that help guide its advocacy and other efforts. The Board of Directors is the governing body of the ACR. The position statements for the ACR are developed by the relevant committees and brought to the Board for discussion and vote for approval. Once approved by the Board, these become the policies of the ACR that govern its business and are carried out by its volunteers and staff.
Although there have been challenges along the way, the wind, for the most part, had been at our back. The direction of political winds in our country has changed recently. In January, a new administration took office, and the political climate shifted appreciably. There is concern about how our patients’ healthcare and access to it will be affected, the potential impact on the practice of medicine, and the future of federally funded rheumatology research and training. All are critical issues for the ACR.
Travel Bans & H-1B Visas
On Jan. 27, the White House issued an Executive Order that broadly suspended travel from certain foreign countries into the U.S. Such a travel ban could have a negative impact on patient care, medical research, education and international collaboration. The ACR/ARHP issued a statement emphasizing our support for the open interchange among individuals from around the world with regard to research, training, education and the provision of healthcare. Further, along with 36 other medical organizations, the ACR was a signatory on a letter developed by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) to express our opposition to the travel restrictions.