Rheumatology Professionals, Patients Carry Important Messages to Capitol Hill

Advocating With You

Pictured, from left to right, are Russ Branum, MD, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Suzanne Moore, MD.

The ACR’s annual Advocates for Arthritis conference brought nearly 100 rheumatology professionals and patient advocates to Washington, D.C., on September 9–10. Attendees from 37 states met with staffers from 135 congressional offices to share their personal stories about access to care and treatments. They also encouraged the elected officials to support increased funding for medical research.

During the educational portion of the conference, ACR and ARHP members heard updates about some of the latest policy and regulatory issues facing the rheumatology community. This year’s presentations included:

  • Bob Doherty, senior vice president of governmental affairs and public policy at the American College of Physicians (ACP), who shared the ACP’s views on Sustainable Growth Rate reform efforts and the ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Robert Carter, MD, deputy director of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Md., gave an overview of NIH/NIAMS, and highlighted recent advances related to rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and lupus.
  • Rahul Rajkumar, MD, senior advisor at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation in Washington, D.C., discussed the latest in payment and service delivery models.

Before attendees headed to Capitol Hill to meet with their lawmakers, they heard a keynote speech by Congressman Ami Bera, MD, (D-CA). Congressman Bera is an internist who was elected in 2012. He encouraged participants to personalize their “asks” for members of Congress by sharing stories of how these issues have affected them personally.

In conjunction with Advocates for Arthritis, the ACR launched a Virtual Hill Day so that those who were unable to attend in person could also share their stories with lawmakers. Nearly 200 people responded to this call to action and sent e-mails to Capitol Hill, amplifying attendees’ impact with influential messages from back home.

For more information about getting involved in advocacy including information on Advocates for Arthritis 2014, visit www.rheumatology.org/Advocacy.

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