- The deleterious imposition of step therapy protocols;
- The burdensome and unnecessary requirements for obtaining prior authorizations and pre-approvals for indicated treatments;
- The rheumatology workforce shortage and its growing impact on access to care for our patients;
- The need to address the meager reimbursement for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which diminishes access to osteoporosis screening, because so many testing sites have been forced to close; and
- The urgent need for more research funding, especially through the U.S. Department of Defense, because arthritis is the leading cause of disability and discharge among servicemen and women.
Come this September, the ACR will offer our general membership and patients the opportunity to go to Capitol Hill with our volunteer leaders as part of the ACR’s Advocates for Arthritis Fly-In. The applications to join us Sept. 8–10 are now available.
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Explore This IssueJune 2019
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For those who prefer to meet federal legislators on our home turf or would like to continue to build relationships with senators and House representatives after the D.C. meetings, the ACR can facilitate access to federal lawmakers locally, either through district meetings or at fundraising events through RheumPAC (see below). It is also possible to invite a legislator to visit your practice. This is one of the best ways for officials to get a feel for the care we, as rheumatologists and members of the interprofessional team, provide our patients. They can see firsthand the impact we have on our patients’ quality of life, as well as the challenges our patients and we, as their providers, face every day.
The ACR also provides our members with a vehicle for year-round direct access to Congress through the Legislative Action Center. Here, we can directly write to our lawmakers. Precomposed, editable messages on a range of issues facing rheumatology practices and patients are available for us to consider sending. In addition, the ACR’s professional advocacy staff communicates year-round directly with Hill offices and staff on the priority issues of the rheumatology community. We can influence legislation and advance key bills due to these ongoing contacts and relationships.
Access to Decision Makers & Rheumatology Champions
RheumPAC—One of the most effective ways the rheumatology community can make a difference and increase access is through the ACR’s Political Action Committee for Rheumatology: RheumPAC. Donations to RheumPAC (or perhaps better said, investments in RheumPAC) from ACR and ARP members allow us to give financial support to the campaigns of rheumatology champions in Congress. These legislators feel they have the backing of the membership through RheumPAC, and this, in turn, gives additional access to these members of Congress through fundraising events or by their coming to present to us at ACR Advocacy meetings.
RheumPAC contributions, made possible through our investments in RheumPAC, help preserve the seats of our champions in Congress. These champions fight for us on issues important to rheumatology; they let us know when bills relevant to rheumatology are coming up, and they introduce new bills to address our issues. Learn more at RheumPAC.
The ACR also participates in advocacy events with other medical specialties. These meetings allow targeted conversations on topics of interest we share with other cognitive specialties, such as workforce shortages and the onus of prior authorizations. These informal settings allow for updates on politics and caucus discussions surrounding greater healthcare themes, including the various Medicare-for-All bills or rural legislators’ conversations about access to care in their states.