ACR Hill Visit
Amid the Obamacare chaos, the ACR Board of Directors and volunteers from several key ACR committees hand-delivered a letter from ACR President Sharad Lakhanpal to Senators on Wednesday during our spring Hill visit. The letter lists key health reform principles the ACR supports, including continuous, affordable insurance coverage; reimbursement for services that people with arthritis and rheumatologic diseases need; and protection from preexisting condition exclusions. We also reminded legislators about the importance of protecting rheumatology practices by repealing IPAB and providing tort reform.
Aside from discussing health reform, ACR leaders lobbied Congress about two other critical topics:
- Reducing the rheumatology workforce shortage through loan forgiveness, increasing GME slots and streamlining international physicians’ visas to work in areas with shortages; and
- Creating a permanent stand-alone arthritis and rheumatology research fund at the Department of Defense.
Important: Visit the ACR Legislative Action Center to quickly send a message to your senators to address concerns regarding adequate coverage for people with chronic conditions. (Apologies to my fellow D.C. residents—no Senators.) While you’re there, click the boxes to send notes to your members of Congress about other timely issues. It’s easy and fast!
It’s been a successful legislative session for rheumatology advocates in many state houses. There are new laws in the following categories:
- Biosimilar notification: 31 state laws in total, including five in 2017;
- Step therapy: 12 state laws, including two in 2017, plus Iowa, which is pending the governor’s signature; and
- Reduction in out-of-pocket costs: in New Hampshire, a bill to prevent drug companies from giving copay assistance was defeated; and in Washington, D.C., a new law caps specialty copays at $150/month.
You can easily get involved in politics closer to home in state issues by signing up at the ACR’s State Advocacy page or by contacting your local rheumatology society.
Join the AMA
You probably already know that this is a critical year in which the ACR must count in its ranks 1,000 AMA members in order to continue to magnify our voice through the AMA. But did you also know that when you sign up or renew your AMA membership, you can win free registration and hotel accommodation for the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting in San Diego? Do it now! With enough members, the ACR will continue to propose that our initiatives become AMA policy and, therefore, gain more traction. Currently, the ACR is considering AMA resolutions to garner government support for increasing GME positions for the first time since 1996 and streamlining visas for international physicians.