ACR volunteer leaders will be on Capitol Hill this month meeting face to face with key decision makers and discussing legislative and regulatory issues that affect the rheumatology community. The ACR Advocacy Leadership Conference takes place every spring in Washington, D.C. The conference is attended by members of the ACR Government Affairs Committee, RheumPAC Committee, and the Affiliate Society Council. In-person meetings with members of Congress are a critical piece of ACR’s advocacy program. These meetings support our efforts to influence national healthcare policy and ensure that policy makers are educated on the importance of the rheumatology subspecialty.
During the 2013 Advocacy Leadership Conference, the ACR is focused on educating recently elected members of Congress on our legislative priorities, including physician payment reform, patient access to treatment, and funding for medical research. While Congress passed a one-year fix to temporarily avert physician payment cuts at the end of 2012, the ACR is urging Congress to permanently replace the flawed SGR system that leads to this deepening annual crisis. The new model must recognize through appropriate reimbursement the specialized care rheumatologists provide.
ACR advocates are also urging members of Congress to co-sponsor the Patients’ Access to Treatment Act of 2013. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Lois Capps (D-CA), would place specialty-tier drugs, including biologics used to treat arthritis and other rheumatic diseases, within the confines of Tier III nonpreferred drugs. This move would mean that commercial health insurers would impose the same co-payment obligations for specialty drugs as they already do for Tier III medications. This critical legislation will help more patients to adhere to necessary treatment regimens by reducing the cost-sharing barriers to treatment.
Calling All Advocates—Meet with your Elected Officials at Home!
Meeting with members of Congress in Washington, D.C. is an important and effective way to convey the ACR’s legislative priorities to elected officials. However, you don’t have to travel to Washington to get involved. Members of Congress have regularly scheduled district work periods when they take time to meet with constituents in their local district offices. The ACR encourages you to schedule a district meeting to help educate your legislators and ensure the viability of the rheumatology subspecialty. For information on district work period schedules or assistance setting up a meeting, please contact [email protected] or call (404) 633-3777 to speak with ACR government affairs staff. ACR staff can handle the logistics of the meeting for you, so you can focus on your message to your representative. Your engagement is critically important and appreciated.