During the Hill meetings (see photos here), ACR/ARHP leaders asked that Congress address the growing workforce shortage issue facing medical providers and specifically the rheumatology field, which will need 3,845 more licensed and practicing rheumatologists in 2025 than what is projected in the ACR’s 2015 Workforce Study. To this end, members of the House were asked to co-sponsor H.R.2267, the Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2017, which would provide for the distribution of additional medical residency positions. Members of the Senate were asked to co-sponsor S.989, the Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act, which would make pediatric subspecialties, such as pediatric rheumatologists, eligible for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). The NHSC provides scholarship and loan repayment to healthcare providers in exchange for service in rural and underserved areas. Lawmakers in both branches were asked to co-sponsor H.R.2141/S.898, the Conrad State 30 & Physician Access Reauthorization Act, which would streamline visa processing for foreign physicians and provide incentives to physicians to practice in rural and medically underserved communities.
You Might Also Like
Also By This Author
“It was my impression,” says Dr. Sampson, “that members of Congress have been hearing about the physician shortages from other physician groups besides the ACR. They were definitely receptive to learning more about the actionable bills currently before Congress that could begin to alleviate the shortages we’re facing in adult and pediatric rheumatology right now.”
Dr. Sivaraman says, “Some of the important areas that need to be addressed include creating a healthy working environment for rheumatologists to practice their art, providing access for patients to obtain healthcare and increased funding for cutting-edge research in the field of rheumatology. These are fundamental for the future of rheumatology and our patients. The uniqueness of the RheumPAC Committee is that it provides us with a platform for our voice to be heard in numbers and also to serve as an advocate for our patients.”
Medical Research Investment
Maintaining America’s investment in medical research was also discussed as ACR/ARHP leadership thanked members of the House of Representatives and the Senate for the $34 billion, a $2 billion funding increase, which they committed to the National Institutes of Health for FY2017 in the budget omnibus.
Dr. Sampson says, “The ACR again pushed hard to help create a line item for a dedicated research program within the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD]. I think members are starting to recognize that because arthritis is the second leading cause of medical discharge from the military, it makes great sense for the DOD to focus research dollars on programs that are more likely to have a direct impact on increasing troop retention and readiness.”