Looking at the major medical associations, we were one of the few that did not have a political action committee,” says Kristin Wormley, government affairs director for ACR. “Having a PAC makes us more of a presence on Capitol Hill.”
Explore this issueMay 2007
Contributions to the PAC will be voluntary and separate from ACR membership dues. Any ACR member who is a U.S. citizen is eligible to contribute to the PAC.
In the past, some ACR members have made individual financial contributions to political candidates, but the organization as a whole has not been able to contribute to political campaigns. Because ACR has formed a PAC, now its members will be able to contribute as a group to politicians who understand the viewpoint of rheumatologists, rheumatology health professionals, and rheumatology patients. This is especially important now that Congress is considering a number of issues that deeply affect rheumatologists, Wormley says.
It is so important for ACR to take a proactive role and participate in activities in Washington, D.C.
—Sharad Lakhanpal, MD
Members Weigh In
Some ACR members with a special interest in national healthcare issues have been happy to learn that ACR will now have its own PAC. “ACR has grown to be a significant body,” says Sharad Lakhanpal, MD, of Rheumatology Associates in Dallas, Texas. “Whether we like politics or not, the fact is that decisions taken by politicians are going to affect our lives and livelihood. It is so important for ACR to take a proactive role and participate in activities in Washington, D.C.” Dr. Lakhanpal already sent in his PAC contribution.
“Over the last two years the ACR government affairs committee has recommended a PAC to the ACR board of directors,” says Joseph Flood, MD, chair of the ACR government affairs committee who is president of Musculoskeletal Medical Specialties, Inc., and a clinical faculty member at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and Public Health in Columbus. “We think this is an important way for us to ensure that our message is clearly articulated to Congress. PACs are designed to support those who share our opinions by making contributions to candidates.” He reports that the fledgling PAC has already received many contributions from ACR members.
“It is really essential to form this PAC, since healthcare and rheumatology are influenced so much by the actions of legislators in Washington, D.C.,” says Ann Kunkel, BS, an education coordinator in pediatric rheumatology at the University of Kansas Medical Center, in Kansas City. “Private health insurers tend to follow the lead set by Medicare, so it’s really important for us to have a voice there.” Kunkel serves on the ARHP education committee.