On May 16, ACR and ARP leaders serving on the Board of Directors, Affiliate Society Council, Government Affairs Committee, Committee on Rheumatologic Care, RheumPAC and Insurance Subcommittee will go to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the College’s membership and our patients. The group represents 31 states and the District of Columbia, and will educate 110 House and Senate offices on policies affecting rheumatology in the new Congress. Join them by sending a pre-written email through the ACR Legislative Action Center.
What Legislators Need to Know
The ACR asks legislators to support the following legislation to improve patient access to care:
- Safe Step Act of 2019 (H.R. 2279):Introduced by Representatives Raul Ruiz, MD (D-Calif.), and Brad Wenstrup, DPM (R-OH), physicians who have encountered step therapy in their own practices, this bipartisan legislation would place reasonable limits on the use of step therapy in employer-sponsored health plans and create a clear process for patients and doctors to seek exceptions. This legislation builds on reforms already passed in 22 states to correct this pervasive practice, which delays effective care and puts patients at unnecessary risk in employer-provided plans that fall under the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) laws.
- Addressing the pediatric medical workforce shortage through:
- Reauthorization of the Pediatric Specialty Loan Repayment Program: Legislation is needed to reauthorize this now expired program, which provided loan repayment for pediatric subspecialists.
- Strengthening our Pediatric Workforce Act (H.R. 1656): Introduced by Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R-Pa.), this legislation would amend the Public Health Service Act to provide support for initiatives that address pediatric public health disparities in children’s hospitals’ graduate medical education programs.
- Prior Authorization Legislation: To be introduced by Representatives Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) and Ami Bera (D-Calif.), bipartisan legislation would improve the transparency and efficiency of prior authorization processes, ensuring patients can access care without delays that could jeopardize their health.
Other Key Issues
The ACR also looks forward to working with legislators on the following issues and any related policies:
- Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act (S. 283): Introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), this legislation would restore a sustainable Medicare payment for DXA bone density scans performed in a physician’s office, which are essential to diagnose osteoporosis and prevent fractures in the Medicare population.
- Dedicated arthritis research funds through the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program: Dedicated funding for research related to arthritis, the leading cause of disability and a leading cause of medical discharge, at the DoD to better serve the needs of current and former service members living with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases during and after service.
How You Can Help
If you aren’t among the ACR/ARP members already planning to be in D.C. to engage your members of Congress in person, we encourage you to advocate from home. You can ask your senators and representatives to support these pieces of legislation through the ACR’s Legislative Action Center. Let your voice be heard. The ACR will act to amplify it. If you act now, your views will already be on the record when the ACR visits the Hill.