Rheumatology has an even stronger voice in Washington, D.C., thanks to an influx of funding from rheumatology practices and state societies donating generously to the ACR’s RheumPAC Advocacy Fund since the beginning of the year.
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According to federal law, only individuals can donate to RheumPAC, the only political action committee (PAC) dedicated to the interests of rheumatology. However, professional practices and other rheumatology groups expressed an interest in supporting the work of the RheumPAC collectively. To allow non-individual donations, the ACR launched the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund in early 2019. The fund has been highly successful, with more than $40,000 in donations received in its inaugural year.
These RheumPAC Advocacy Fund contributions are now providing RheumPAC with the opportunity to expand fundraising efforts, cover operating costs and take advantage of novel resources to improve advocacy outreach to ACR/ARP members and beyond.
Giving Back for Advocacy
One early supporter of the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund was the Virginia Society of Rheumatology (VSR), according to Harry Gewanter, MD, FAAP, MACR, VSR treasurer, board member, and previous RheumPAC chair.
“While chair of RheumPAC, I became aware that other medical and dental PACs had similar advocacy funds they used to expand their visibility and reach. At the same time, RheumPAC engaged a consultant to make suggestions for the future of the political action committee,” Gewanter says. “We loved the report, but didn’t have the resources to implement many of their recommendations. It only made sense that for us to do more, it would require the creation of the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund.”
Once the new fund was established, the VSR board agreed that providing financial support as a society was an important opportunity to help RheumPAC expand its abilities and promote the ACR’s policies and positions.
Support From Practices
Rheumatology practices also were eager to support the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund. One of the fund’s first practice donations came from the practice of Kent “Kwas” Huston, MD, in Kansas City, Mo.
“My partners immediately recognized the importance of the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund as a crucial investment in the future of rheumatology,” Dr. Huston says. “RheumPAC helps open doors [so we can] meet with decision makers. We must make every effort to educate those in the legislative and regulatory branches of government, because our specialty needs a strong voice when issues arise affecting our ability to maintain healthy practices and care for rheumatology patients.”
The most generous practice donations to the fund have come from one of the country’s largest private rheumatology practices, Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates (ARA), in the Washington, D.C., area.