Funding drives arthritis research breakthroughs and prevention programs, and advocates from the ACR, Arthritis Foundation and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) pitched funding increases to lawmakers at a lunchtime briefing held Feb. 1 in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the Congressional Arthritis Caucus.
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During the briefing, titled $300 Billion Crisis: The High Cost and Impact of Arthritis in the United States, presenters highlighted new data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC’s) Arthritis Program, “which shows the high toll Americans pay due to arthritis, which affects nearly a quarter of U.S. adults,” said Angus B. Worthing, MD, FACR, FACP, rheumatologist and chair of the ACR’s Government Affairs Committee. He and the other panelists called on Congress to fund an additional $5 million for local CDC arthritis programs, $20 million for research through the U.S. Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs and continued support for the National Institutes of Health.
“We hear from our patients every day about the personal toll arthritis takes on their body, making it hard to work, go to school, take care of their families and even get dressed in the morning,” said Dr. Worthing. Arthritis may even force some people to stop working. “People are losing out on $160 billion in lost wages.” Adding to this, patients and the rest of society pay a high price for treatment. Medical treatment has revolutionized the care of rheumatoid arthritis (RA)—getting people back to their daily lives and drastically cutting the rates for hospitalizations and joint surgery in the case of RA. “But we still don’t have a disease-modifying medication for osteoarthritis,” which affects millions of adults who are still of working age, he said.
“We need concrete solutions to expand access to arthritis care while improving the quality of life for people living with arthritis and rheumatic diseases,” he said. Highlights of event presentations were shared on Twitter with the hashtag #AdvocateForArthritis.
The event’s moderator, Michael Ortman, immediate past chair of the AF, presented a business case for more congressional funding to develop treatment breakthroughs and prevention programs.
Speakers’ Key Points
At the Capitol Hill briefing, speakers shared the latest prevalence statistics on rheumatic diseases in the U.S., as well as how arthritis affects the daily lives of patients. They also outlined current research and public health initiatives that may save costs, keep adults with arthritis working and deliver new treatment breakthroughs. The panelists urged lawmakers to support the CDC Arthritis Program and arthritis research programs at both the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense (DoD).