The first appointment was nerve wracking, but I was amazed at how well received we were at every office where we spoke. I attended my second conference in 2011, and was pleased and excited when a few of the legislative members and their aides actually remembered me. It felt good to have built a rapport with them, and to know that I had made a lasting impression.
During last year’s event, I had the opportunity to share my struggles in accessing affordable, quality care with our keynote speaker, Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. Sen. Isakson was so involved in my story that he asked his aide to collect my contact information. After his speech, he came over to shake my hand, and personally asked me to send him my story in writing so that he could use it as real-life example of the difficulties in gaining access to affordable care to share with his colleagues on the powerful Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. It was such a humbling experience, and I felt honored and encouraged. Lawmakers do hear us and it is critical to continue to engage in these conversations.
These are the types of experiences we need to see more of: more patients and more rheumatologists telling their stories to lawmakers, letting them know that arthritis and rheumatic diseases are crippling, costly, and life threatening, and that, without access to rheumatologists and appropriate treatment, our nation’s healthcare system will be much worse off.
The time for action is now. To make sure that action happens, I know that I’ll keep coming to Advocates for Arthritis every year, talking to my legislators and telling my story and others’ stories, giving lawmakers the facts they need to understand that the pain, disfigurement, and disability from autoimmune diseases are simply unacceptable. I hope to see many new faces, both rheumatologists and patients, during this year’s Advocates for Arthritis event. The ACR is accepting applications now and I hope many of you will take advantage of this important and personally fulfilling opportunity.
Tami Brown is co-founder of the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement and a dedicated advocate for the rheumatology community.
Now Accepting Applications for Advocates for Arthritis
Apply today to attend Advocates for Arthritis this year on September 10–11 in Washington, D.C. Don’t miss this opportunity to educate Congress on the impact arthritis and rheumatic diseases have on quality of life, and the importance of care provided by a rheumatology professional. The ACR is also looking for patient advocates, so encourage your patients to apply as well. For applications and more information, go to www.rheumatology.org/advocacy.
On September 19, the ACR and the Arthritis Foundation held a joint legislative briefing to inform Congress members and their staff about the devastating effects of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases, as well as to encourage support of the “Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act of 2007” (S.626/H.R. 1283), or Arthritis Act.
Dear Friends and Colleagues, With your strong support and commitment, RheumPAC has grown again for the eighth straight year, allowing us to do even more on your behalf. Not only did we exceed our original goal by raising more than $150,000. More importantly, these donations came from nearly 350 ACR and ARHP members—a new record….
The ACR’s annual Advocates for Arthritis conference, September 19–20, brought more than 120 rheumatologists, rheumatology health professionals, and patient advocates to our nation’s capital. Attendees, representing 37 states, met with more than 175 congressional offices, sharing their stories of access to care, treatment, and the importance of research.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the recipient of the ACR’s 2018 Award for Public Leadership in Rheumatology. Sen. Collins has championed several pieces of legislation that support rheumatologists and rheumatology patients, and she has taken part in multiple efforts to address ongoing concerns in rheumatology. “Sen. Collins has consistently worked both sides of the aisle…