Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the recipient of the ACR’s 2018 Award for Public Leadership in Rheumatology. Sen. Collins has championed several pieces of legislation that support rheumatologists and rheumatology patients, and she has taken part in multiple efforts to address ongoing concerns in rheumatology.
Explore this issueDecember 2018
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“Sen. Collins has consistently worked both sides of the aisle to gain support for legislation, which will greatly help our patients living with rheumatic diseases,” says ACR President Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA.
“In so many ways, Sen Collins has stood up for rheumatologists and our patients,” says ACR Government Affairs Committee (GAC) Chair Angus Worthing, MD, FACR, FACP.
During the 115th Congress’s heated 2017 debate over reforming the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Collins helped underscore the importance of patient protections for meaningful, continuous insurance coverage, including protection for pre-existing conditions, which includes most rheumatologic diagnoses. The ACR Executive Committee was able to thank her in person for this in September 2017.
Sen. Collins, chair of the Special Committee on Aging, “clearly understands the problems people with arthritis and rheumatologic diseases face,” says Dr. Worthing. “She has told the ACR that through her work as senator and knowing people with rheumatologic diseases, she is motivated to help improve access to care and treatment.”
Leading Legislative Support
Notably, Sen. Collins took the lead this year on the Patient Right to Know Drug Prices Act (S.2554) and co-sponsored an earlier version of the bill (S.2553), both aimed at ending gag clauses implemented by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Gag clauses prevent pharmacists from telling patients when it would cost less for a drug if they paid in cash instead of using their prescription drug coverage.
With nearly unanimous support from Congressional colleagues, the bill passed and was signed into law on Oct. 10, 2018.
In February 2018, Sen. Collins, along with Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D-Pennsylvania), convened a hearing called, From Joint Pain to Pocket Pain: Cost and Competition Among Rheumatoid Arthritis Therapies, and invited Will Harvey, MD, MSc, FACR, member of the ACR Board of Directors, to testify.
“She put together a terrific hearing, and that helps get our message about high out-of-pocket costs for our patients into the national conversation,” says Dr. Worthing.