We will continue to shop our model workforce legislation and are encouraged that we have had interest from legislators in a few states. However, we are still in an education posture on this issue. Rapid movement has been jeopardized not by legislators, but by shrinking budgets and erroneous policy analysis from legislative staff. We are currently working to help them understand that Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and state loan forgiveness programs that include general internal medicine exclude subspecialties, such as rheumatology. Education is always a part of the legislative process, but on this issue we are clearly starting at square one.
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Drug pricing and pharmacy benefit manager transparency will continue to be of importance, but there don’t seem to be any big pieces of legislation on these issues on the horizon this year. We will monitor all our issue areas and engage where we can have an impact. As always, we will continue to work with our partners to leverage our voice for the benefit of the rheumatology profession and patients.
In closing, I would be remiss not to thank every one of you who participate in our VoterVoice campaigns and who take time out of your busy schedules to meet, call and write legislators about the important issues affecting rheumatology. Our advocacy would not be nearly as impactful without you lending your voice to the fight. In the coming year, stay involved and urge your colleagues to get involved in advocacy as well. If advocacy is a new area for you, consider this pertinent statement from Greek statesman and general Pericles: “Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean that politics won’t take an interest in you.”
Joseph Cantrell, JD, is the senior manager of state affairs for the ACR.