On May 12, ACR and ARP leaders serving on the Board of Directors, Affiliate Society Council, Government Affairs Committee, Committee on Rheumatologic Care, Insurance Subcommittee and RheumPAC will visit Capitol Hill to educate legislators and their staff and advocate on behalf of the College’s membership and rheumatology patients.
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What Legislators Need to Know
The nationwide medical workforce shortage is getting worse and requires policy support:
- The Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act (H.R. 2256/S. 834) would better prepare the nation for its next healthcare crisis. This legislation increases the number of residency positions eligible for Medicare support by 15,000 slots over five years and requires that at least 50% of the additional 3,000 slots added each fiscal year be directed to specialties as identified by the U.S. Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), including rheumatology.
The ACR asks legislators to support legislation to improve patient access to care by lowering out-of-pocket costs:
- The Help Ensure Lower Patient (HELP) Copays Act (H.R. 5801) would prohibit the use of copay accumulator programs and require payments made through copay assistance programs to count toward a patient’s deductible or out-of-pocket cost-sharing requirements. This legislation would make it easier for patients to afford their prescribed treatments and maintain access to those treatments after assistance program funds run out.
Other Key Issues
The ACR continues to work with legislators on the following policy priorities:
- The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act (H.R. 3173/S. 3018) would help protect patients from unnecessary delays in care by streamlining and standardizing prior authorization under the Medicare Advantage program, providing much-needed oversight and transparency of health insurance for America’s seniors.
- The Safe Step Act (H.R. 2163/S. 464) would amend laws regulating employer-provided health insurance to outline specific exemptions, outline a clear exceptions protocol to step therapy requirements and require response within 72 hours of a physician’s request and within 24 hours where a patient’s life is at risk.
- As HRSA is building the recently funded pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program, additional funding from Congress for the program would mitigate the impact of the severe medical pediatric subspecialty workforce shortage.
How You Can Help
If you aren’t among the ACR/ARP members traveling to Washington, D.C., to engage your members of Congress in person, we encourage you to advocate from home. You can educate your senators and representatives on the importance of these policies through the ACR’s Legislative Action Center. If you contact your legislator, your message will be in the office’s constituent communication record when the ACR visits the Hill. Speak out and let the ACR amplify your voice.
You can also advocate via social media and tag your lawmakers’ social media accounts in your post. Use relevant hashtags on Twitter, including #Act4Arthritis for this fly-in, and tag the ACR’s advocacy account, @ACRheumDC. For information on RheumPAC and how it educates legislators on policy the College would like see, or to make an investment, visit the ACR website.