“You really do build up a relationship with some of these [government] staffs, and with a lot of them, you feel like they’re on your side,” says Ms. Crawford. “My last words to Rep. Perry [Warren, D-PA] were: ‘Whatever disability costs, it’s more than the medicine. The three of us standing here—me, a teacher, a medical student, who would not be here if we couldn’t get the medications we need in a timely manner—we’re contributing members. We pay a lot in taxes that otherwise would have been spent on us for disability.’ [Rep. Warren] looked at his aide and said: ‘Write that down.’”
You Might Also Like
Explore This IssueNovember 2019
Also By This Author
Kelly April Tyrrell writes about health, science and health policy. She lives in Madison, Wis.
A Note From Dr. Worthing
Congress is back in session and you know what that means—time for Advocates for Arthritis! At ACR’s annual fly-in advocacy conference, rheumatologists, training fellows, rheumatology professionals and patients converged on Washington, D.C., to learn about advocacy and meet with members of Congress. We held 117 meetings with members and staff to push step therapy reform, boost the rheumatology workforce and discuss ACR’s principles about reducing drug prices—a hot topic of debate right now in D.C.
The Hill was full of energy as advocates were charged up about the issues to reduce patient wait times to see a doctor and get on meds. And with the Twitter hashtag #Act4Arthritis, there was a storm of catchy advocacy haiku tweets—yes, haiku!—that kept it exciting online too (read them all #Act4Arthritis #haiku). One of my favorites was written by Dr. Rebecca Tuetken, who wrote to us from home:
Y’all are gonna be
The rheums that make it happen
Some takeaways from the 2019 Advocates for Arthritis event:
- Our pediatric workforce bill (to repay student loans for needed pediatric specialists, including rheumatologists) was introduced in the Senate by Dr. Bill Cassidy. Thanks to the advocacy of our pediatricians and others, we now have bills in both House and Senate!
- Advocacy 101, the ACR’s conference for fellows-in-training and program directors, grew this year from 16 to 22 attendees. The ACR aspires to continue growing this program so that all U.S. rheumatology fellows will be able to attend at some point during their training. Imagine 10 or 15 years in the future when half our workforce has world-class training in advocating for our profession and our patients!
- ACR President Dr. Paula Marchetta presented Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA) with the 2019 ACR Award for Public Leadership in Rheumatology for his outstanding work on step therapy reform and other causes for rheumatology patients. Check out Dr. Ruiz’s tweet about it!
- We anticipate that a Senate companion bill to reform step therapy will be introduced soon.
Couldn’t get to D.C. this year? Spend a few moments at the ACR’s Legislative Action Center to send a pre-written email to Congress. Join the effort from afar and help magnify rheumatology’s message.