In a look at the upcoming elections, former Senator Tim Hutchinson, now a lobbyist who works on behalf of the ACR, said the midterms have been described as “the healthcare elections,” with voters ranking healthcare higher than the economy as a motivating factor in how they’ll vote.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2018
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History, he said, might be on the side of Democrats to reclaim the House of Representatives.
“If Democrats perform only at the average—since World War II on the mid-term elections in the first term of a president—though narrowly, they will gain control of the House of Representatives,” he said.
The outcome of the midterms could have effects on everything from the fate of the Affordable Care Act to Medicaid expansion and Medicare accessibility, and the coverage and marketing of opioids, he said.
In a video message, U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess, MD (R-Texas), chair of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health and an obstetrician by training, told rheumatologists they have his ear.
“It is critical for doctors and specialists to be involved in policy as it is developed. Your voice is important. Your input matters,” he said. “I’ve been in your seat before, and together, I believe we can work to reduce burdens on rheumatologists, bring reforms that are necessary and improve patient care.”
Dr. Worthing urged rheumatologists to join the American Medical Association to strengthen the field’s representation within that group, to submit comments to proposed regulations through www.regulations.gov, and to send emails and make phone calls to elected officials about important issues. “Getting your voice heard” makes a difference, he said. He asked all rheumatologists and interprofessional team members to go online to the ACR’s Legislative Action Center to communicate directly with members of Congress using prefilled messages they can personalize.
He said that although Congress and the administration have been “absorbed” in partisan battles, government shutdowns and other distractions, “the same strategies that we’ve had in the past continue to work, which are proposing common-sense approaches, fixes that maintain our patients’ access to treatments, diagnostic testing, therapies.
“Usually when those kinds of initiatives get through Congress, and passed into law, they have wide bipartisan support, and these times are no different.”
Thomas R. Collins is a freelance writer living in South Florida.