It is important for all ACR members—especially those who serve in leadership roles for the ACR—to make their voices heard to their elected officials. In this spirit, the ACR board of directors, standing committee chairs, and senior ACR staff headed to Capitol Hill on May 10. This unprecedented event, scheduled to coincide with the ACR’s May board meeting, was a first for the leadership as a group, though many of us have individually met with members of Congress.
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Explore This IssueMay 2007
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Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), spoke to the leadership before its visit to the Hill. Pallone serves as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and chair of its powerful Subcommittee on Health. The subcommittee has sole jurisdiction over Medicaid, the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and shares jurisdiction of Medicare with the Ways and Means Committee. It oversees public health, biomedical programs, food and drug safety, mental health and related research, hospital construction, and all healthcare homeland security-related concerns.
All told, some 40 volunteers and staff spent part of Thursday visiting more than 16 members of Congress from more than 22 states to advocate on behalf of rheumatology. We talked about four of the most important issues affecting rheumatology today, which I will summarize below.
It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.
Not all ACR members could join us in Washington, D.C., but you each can make sure the voice of rheumatology is heard. I encourage you to use this summary as a basis for a letter or phone call to your senators and representatives, or visit the ACR Legislative Action Center online at www.rheumatology.org for more details on each of these issues and assistance in contacting your member of Congress.
Fair Physician Reimbursement
The ACR strongly urges Congress to support legislation revising Medicare payment methodology to ensure appropriate reimbursement for specialists treating arthritis and rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases.
In 2006, Congress again prevented what would have been a damaging 5% cut in the Medicare fee schedule for 2007 by including a 0% update in the Tax Relief and Healthcare Act of 2006. Unless Congress takes remedial action, rheumatologists and other physicians are expected to face Medicare reimbursement cuts of 10% or more in 2008 and in each year through at least 2012.