The ACR Board of Directors met in Washington, D.C., May 13–15. The trip began with the board and staff participating in Congressional Insight, a computer-simulation exercise that allows participants to experience some of the pressures and rewards of being a U.S. representative.
“Congressional Insight does a great job simulating the pressures faced by a member of Congress,” explains ACR board member Christy Sandborg, MD. “It illustrates the demands placed on a legislator’s time and how making difficult decisions can open him or her up to public scrutiny. The program leaves you with a better understanding of the role of elected officials and their staffs.”
Following that activity, the board heard from Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R-Ga.) who, in addition to being a representative, is a practicing physician. Rep. Price thanked the board members for going to the Hill, reminded them of the importance of conveying their knowledge to Congress regarding healthcare reform and other issues, and charged them to focus on the patient.
The board also received a legislative update and lobbying tips training session from Patton Boggs, LLP, the ACR’s lobbying firm. After the training session, board members teamed up on Capitol Hill to discuss the ACR’s legislative priorities with key members of Congress. In addition to discussing the “Arthritis Prevention Control and Cure Act” (H.R. 1210/S.984) and the “Medicare Fracture Prevention and Osteoporosis Testing Act” (H.R.1894/S.769), board members educated Congress on Tier IV pricing, encouraged a permanent fix to the sustainable growth rate, and asked Congress for a continual increase for arthritis research funding.
Finally, continuing their health policy education, the board received remarks on comparative effectiveness research from Jean Slutksy, MD, director of the Center for Outcomes and Evidence at the Agency Healthcare Research and Quality. Next, Larissa Lapteva, MD, MHS, deputy director of safety in the division of anesthesia, analgesia, and rheumatology products at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration discussed mitigating risks and promoting safe use of drug therapies.
If you would like to echo the lobbying efforts of the ACR board of directors, you can easily contact your lawmakers about any of these issues by visiting ACR’s Legislative Action Center at www.capwiz.com/acr or by calling the AMA Grassroots Hotline at (800) 833-6354.
What Has RheumPAC Done for You Lately?
RheumPAC, the ACR’s political action committee, ensures that the ACR is involved in healthcare reform discussions. Through contributing to congressional campaigns, the ACR ensures that legislators who support ACR and rheumatology in general remain in Congress and that these relationships are developed and cultivated.
RheumPAC has been active in the first half of 2009. On May 14, RheumPAC Chairman Gary Bryant, MD, attended a fundraiser for Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Bryant had the opportunity to speak with Sen. Burr regarding key health policy issues. Additionally, RheumPAC has contributed to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.) in 2009.
A nonpartisan federal political action committee, RheumPAC, gives rheumatology professionals a voice on Capitol Hill. RheumPAC supports members of Congress who support rheumatology. For more information about RheumPAC, visit www.rheumatology.org/rheumpac, or contact Katie Jones at [email protected].