To state the obvious, 2020 was truly a year like no other. Our professional and personal lives were affected in ways none of us could have imagined. RheumPAC and ACR advocacy efforts were not spared the impacts of the pandemic.
In mid-March, we made the decision to halt RheumPAC solicitations because of the tremendous financial challenges we were all facing. I used to find solace in the profession of medicine, reminding myself that there will always be patients in need of medical providers. But this pandemic reminded us that none of us are immune to the impacts of a pandemic. In addition to worry over our own health and that of our families, providers across the spectrum of care (community practice, hospital-based, academic) faced grave financial strain and many were unsure how they would keep their doors open.
Although we halted solicitations, the work of RheumPAC and the ACR advocacy team did not lose steam. Leveraging the existing relationships that your RheumPAC contributions have helped cultivate over the years, we flexed our strength to remind Congress that rheumatology providers needed support for practices to stay open and deliver needed care for our patient population. We were pleased to see COVID-19 relief packages pass through Congress, and we anticipate additional support packages are on the horizon. We were also able to successfully advocate on behalf of our members who were suddenly thrust into the new world of telemedicine. Meanwhile, we continued to advocate for many of the priorities we had pre-COVID, including a historic win for an estimated average 14-15% increase in Medicare payments for evaluation and management services, reauthorization of the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment program, enactment of surprise billing legislation, and accruing more support for step therapy and prior authorization reform bills in the House and Senate.
Recognizing the key role of RheumPAC in facilitating our advocacy successes and the ever-increasing number of important policy discussions being had in Congress, we decided it was critical to resume fundraising in August. Adequate resources were needed to continue to educate legislators on the serious issues the rheumatology community has faced and will continue to face over the next year. We thank everyone who, despite the extraordinary circumstances, gave any amount this year to RheumPAC. I’m proud that, in the face of all that 2020 threw at us, we were still able to raise $121,250 from 286 individuals.
With a vaccine now being deployed, 2021 is looking better, but we still have our work cut out for us on Capitol Hill, and RheumPAC will be a key component in getting our legislative priorities across the finish line in a new Congress. As a reminder, our mission is to educate, support and thank our key partners in Congress. Every single dollar raised goes directly to carefully chosen campaigns that maximize our reach. With so many new faces in Congress and different legislators in key leadership positions, it will be especially important that RheumPAC continue to build relationships with the offices of the many healthcare policy stakeholders.