The Budget Control Act of 2011 cut Medicare physician payments by 2% across the board. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in 2020, suspended this sequester (i.e., a cut in government spending) between May 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. In the Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed into law in December 2020, Congress postponed Medicare sequester reinstatement until March 31. The Medicare Sequester COVID Moratorium Act (H.R. 315) would extend this relief to the end of the public health emergency.
Urging legislators to support H.R. 315 is just one of the important actions your Government Affairs Committee (GAC) is taking this year. Other ACR legislative priorities include:
- Asking Congress to address arthritis’ impact on our military;
- Urging legislators to fund a pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program; and
- Supporting COVID vaccination for the immunocompromised.
As ARP representatives on the ACR Government Affairs Committee, we are passionate about these issues, because of the impact they have on our patients and the profession. We also get a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction from the work and wish to share our volunteer experiences with you, in the hope you will join us.
From State to National Advocacy
“My first exposure to advocacy on a state level was through my job as an assistant professor in the Graduate Occupational Therapy Program at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn.,” says Brenda Lee Frie, EdD, OTR/L, CHT, an assistant professor at St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minn. and an occupational therapist at M Health Fairview Hand Center, Minneapolis. “As part of our activities each year, we held an occupational therapy day at our state capitol, where we organized students and practitioners across the state by representatives to advocate for upcoming legislation that supported practice and patient access to services.
“I am a new member of the Government Affairs Committee and look forward to advocating on a national level.”
Be Prepared to Learn
Brian Loggins, BA, BS, is the practice administrator for Arthritis Associates, San Antonio, Texas. He has served on the GAC for more than two years, and says, “As a member of the GAC, I have been actively involved with advocacy for our patients and practicing rheumatologists. To me, advocacy involves an active attempt to persuade those with authority to make changes that we want. Advocacy takes training, effort and work, but it can also be rewarding and fun.
“My first experience with advocacy on the Hill in Washington, D.C. was about five years ago, when one of our physicians, who was a member of the ACR Affiliate Society Council, could not attend the Spring Advocacy Leadership Conference in D.C. I agreed to go in his place, but I had no idea what to expect or what was expected of me.
“The few days that I was in D.C. were very well organized by the ACR. We spent the first day in training, going over the topics we were to discuss with the legislators and role playing. The next day, we were off to meet with, and hopefully persuade, the congressional members who control the levers of power [to support issues of importance to rheumatology]. A mobile phone app told us everything we needed to know—like who was on our team, who we were to meet with, when and where.