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RheumPAC: It's Not About Politics
by James Engelbrecht, MD
The best thing about RheumPAC is that it’s not political.
That statement will usually get the attention of the individual or group I’m soliciting for contributions to RheumPAC. Everyone “knows” that political action committees (PACs) are in that sullied, nasty business of elections, ideologies, and politics. In fact, the most common excuse for not contributing to RheumPAC, other than apathy perhaps, is that “you give money to someone I could never support in a million years!” That is political thinking and rationale.
Your RheumPAC is about getting an apolitical rheumatology message to policy makers and lawmakers. RheumPAC could not care less about the ideology, philosophy, or party affiliation of the elected official.
Our elected representatives by and large are sincerely interested in making informed decisions based on sound information and data. They are also interested in being re-elected and, as such, must run campaigns, which cost real dollars. By contributing to campaigns, we can gain some access to the elected officials, allowing us to educate them and their staffs on rheumatology issues. This has often led to the development of a trusting relationship well beyond any dollars contributed. We become their “go-to” source for reliable information on arthritis and rheumatology issues. This has led to writing and sponsorship of legislation directly impacting rheumatology. Two great examples are Rep. Shelly Berkley (D-NV) and Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas). We have had longstanding, solid, and trusting relationships with both representatives, and they continue to champion the cause of access to bone density measurements and osteoporosis treatment.
Think of it this way: If the government had no involvement in healthcare policy, research, or funding of healthcare, there would be scant reason for having an ACR Government Affairs Committee or RheumPAC. The fact is, however, that our federal government is the majority player in all aspects of medicine and healthcare.
Decisions that directly and indirectly affect you and your patients are made by the elected officials. It is imperative that we have access to those elected representatives. Access depends on two things—constituency and money. The ACR works to identify and cultivate relationships between members of Congress and our physician and patient advocates, but providing campaign donations through RheumPAC opens doors for us as well. Your dollars contributed to RheumPAC go entirely to getting the rheumatology message to our representatives. It’s not politics, its RHEUMATOLOGY!
So, if the P in RheumPAC bothers you, just substitute patients or physicians—or perhaps profession would be a better P. Plus, there is always proponent, protagonist, or promoter of rheumatology. Don’t let the political stop you from contributing generously and annually to RheumPAC. Your specialty and your patients need you to be there for them.
Dr. Engelbrecht is vice chair of RheumPAC.