Moving forward, the ACR asked that a $20 million dedicated arthritis research program be designated in the FY2018 Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the DOD to better serve veterans living with rheumatic diseases and that Congress support $16 million for the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Arthritis Program in the FY2018 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill.
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Our leadership also asked Congress to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) included in the ACA. This 15-member appointed board would have the power to impose cuts to rheumatology providers that would disproportionately impact small and rural rheumatology practices. IPAB’s statutorily mandated “fast track” legislative procedure would automatically make any IPAB proposal a law and would require three-fifths of the Senate to agree or a separate piece of House legislation to pass in order to modify an IPAB measure. In addition, IPAB recommendations are not subject to executive or judicial branch review. The College is concerned about this level of power and asked members of the Senate to co-sponsor S.251, the Protecting Medicare from Executive Action Act of 2017, legislation that would repeal the IPAB. Both House and Senate members were asked to co-sponsor H.R.849/S.260, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2017, and support H.J.Res.51/S.J.Res. 16, a joint resolution approving the discontinuation of the process for consideration and automatic implementation of the annual proposal of the Independent Medicare Advisory Board under section 1899A of the Social Security Act.
Dr. Sampson expresses some encouragement, saying, “From my meetings with congressional staff, it was easy to surmise that there is now some traction in the Senate for repealing IPAB; so that could certainly be a big win for the ACR this year.”
“It was great to meet so many new faces at the dinner,” says Dr. Sampson. “Being around so many dedicated rheumatologists can feel like coming back ‘home’; I felt reenergized from all of our discussions. Sen. Roy Blunt gave a great talk and had a great command of the issues involved with pharmaceutical prices and provided some insight into where he thinks the ACHA might head in the Senate.”
Dr. Sivaraman says, “Being part of RheumPAC gives us an opportunity to serve as a strong advocate for our patients by making our voice heard via involvement and education of political leaders—especially, those who make important decisions that affect patient care.”