Last year the ACR’s nonpartisan political action committee, RheumPAC, raised nearly $150,000 from individual contributors. Starting in 2019, the addition of the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund, where rheumatology practices and state societies can contribute corporate dollars, is expected to support RheumPAC fundraising efforts in an effort to surpass this dollar amount, giving rheumatology an even stronger voice in Washington, D.C.
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RheumPAC is the only political action committee dedicated solely to the interests of the rheumatology profession. RheumPAC takes on the work of educating, electing and supporting federal lawmakers who understand and can positively address the policy issues that affect rheumatology care providers and their patients.
A New Way to Give
With the launch of the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund, rheumatology practices, as well as state and local rheumatology societies, now have the ability to support the work of RheumPAC. Non-individuals are prohibited by the Federal Election Commission from investing in RheumPAC, but non-individual contributions can be made to the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund, and several practices have already taken action to support RheumPAC, contributing nearly $30,000 to date.
The donation process for a practice is very simple, explains Kent “Kwas” Huston, MD, an ACR Board Member and rheumatologist in Kansas City, Mo. His practice recently made a donation to the RheumPAC Advocacy Fund, a donation his practice views as an essential investment in the future of rheumatology.
“There are constant changes in rules and regulations governing our practices, and it is critical that we maintain a strong voice in Congress during this process,” Dr. Huston stresses. “The RheumPAC fund opens doors with legislators and allows our advocacy team to be heard by lawmakers.”
Dr. Huston encourages all practices to consider making a donation. Because “we are a relatively small specialty, the RheumPAC donations are needed for the ACR to continue its strong role supporting issues important to the rheumatology community, including patients, doctors and other rheumatology professionals. There is huge value in donating to RheumPAC as both an individual and a practice.”
Strengthening the Rheumatology Voice
RheumPAC was first established in 2007 and is led by a committee of volunteer ACR members chaired by Zachary Wallace, MD, MSc, a rheumatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital. Individual contributions to RheumPAC help rheumatology advocates from the ACR cultivate relationships with any member of Congress, including those serving on healthcare-related committees. In the past, such relationships have helped the ACR advocate for rheumatologists when policy decisions that govern medical practices are up for discussion.
The RheumPAC Advocacy Fund contributions from practices and state societies will provide RheumPAC with the opportunity to expand fundraising efforts, cover operating costs and take advantage of novel resources to improve our outreach ACR/ARP membership, Dr. Wallace explains.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is educating our members on the importance of RheumPAC to advance our advocacy efforts on behalf of rheumatology providers, researchers and patients,” he says. “With additional financial resources, we will be able to improve our outreach efforts, which include education on the ACR/ARP’s advocacy successes, the importance of advocacy and calls for contributions.”
Practices and state societies can donate by writing out a corporate check to RheumPAC Advocacy Fund and mailing it to:
2200 Lake Boulevard NE
Atlanta, GA 30319
Carina Stanton is a freelance science journalist based in Denver.