In 2007, the ACR Government Affairs Committee will focus on correcting the Medicare reimbursement formula, countering increased cuts to diagnostic imaging, and the enactment of the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act. Increasing advocacy among ACR members will also be a top priority.
The ACR and other medical groups will work hard with members of Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to establishing a new formula for Medicare physician reimbursement. Physicians have faced reimbursement cuts for the last few years. Congress has stepped in and erased the past cuts, but if something is not done soon, physicians are facing cuts totaling nearly 40% by 2015.
In the 109th Congress, the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act (H.R.583/S.424) made great progress in both the House and the Senate, with 219 and 49 co-sponsors, respectively. However with the new Congress, ACR members and advocates must start anew. As advocates, we must ensure that those members who previously co-sponsored the bill are again willing to make that commitment. Additionally, ACR members residing in districts or states where Representatives and Senators are not co-sponsors of the bill should contact their elected officials’ offices and encourage support of this legislation.
To achieve the College’s legislative and regulatory goals, it is essential that our members become engaged. A first step is to join the ACR Advocacy List Serve, which updates members on relevant Congressional issues and to apprise ACR members, patients, and advocates of actions they can take to ensure rheumatology’s voice is heard in Washington. To subscribe, go to: http://lists.rheumatology.org/read/all_forums.
Second, contact your congressional delegation and establish and maintain personal relationships with them and their health aide(s). ACR members represented by key leadership and key committee chairs should make an extra effort to establish these relationships. Remember, Congress was elected to represent you and your interests.