Together our voice is heard; our influence is alive.
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In 2017, ACR members heard the call of the Rheumatology Strong campaign and joined the American Medical Association (AMA) in force, ensuring the College maintains its representation in the country’s largest—and arguably most influential—physician society.
“We surpassed our minimum 1,000-member goal by a margin and are hopeful when year-end numbers are assessed we will keep our second delegate,” says Gary Bryant, MD, FACP, chair of the ACR’s delegation to the AMA House of Delegates (HOD), which represents the policy-making and voting arm of the organization.
As a small specialty, rheumatology relies on its AMA membership to be heard.
“Although the ACR has strong volunteers and experienced staff, and has year-over-year increased its advocacy efforts, being part of the AMA federation allows us to leverage its considerable resources, knowledge and more to advance our priorities,” says Dr. Bryant, who has been on the delegation for 14 years. “Many larger specialties have a much larger membership, budget and staff, including some that have a dedicated office in [Washington] D.C. for these activities.”
This year, the ACR brought three successful resolutions to the HOD. The body meets twice a year, and resolutions that pass serve as directives to the AMA, mobilizing its lobbying resources and advocacy efforts.
Resolution 810, Pharmacy Benefit Managers and Prescription Drug Affordability, addresses the cost inflation of drugs resulting from the practices of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The ACR led introduction of the resolution with the American Academy of Dermatology, the American Association of Clinical Urologists, the American College of Gastroenterology and the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
“Our PBM resolution resonated with everyone,” Dr. Bryant says, “and our asks were incorporated into the larger substitute resolution.”
Resolution 819, Consultation Codes and Private Payers, seeks to reinstate and reinforce provider reimbursement for patient consultation. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) eliminated provider consultation codes in 2010, and some commercial insurance companies have considered following suit. The ACR drafted the resolution and introduced it along with the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology and the IDSA, along with the District of Columbia and the states of Georgia and New Jersey.
Additionally, with the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the ACR co-sponsored Resolution 225, to oppose the application of Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) bonuses and penalties to Medicare Part B drug payments to providers. The ACR is helping to lead an ongoing coalition effort to address this critical issue for our members.