ACR advocates recently returned to Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress as part of the Advocates for Arthritis fly-in conference on Sept. 8–9. This annual event brings together rheumatology professionals and patients to advocate on behalf of the rheumatology community. Here are the core issues on which advocates focused this year:
Patient Access to Treatments
- Co-sponsor H.R. 460, the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act. This legislation, which was spearheaded by the ACR and Arthritis Foundation, would limit cost sharing for specialty tier drugs—like biologics—to what plans require for nonpreferred brands. Thanks to the efforts of the rheumatology community and partnering groups, the bill has more than 135 bipartisan cosponsors.
Patient Access to Care
- Repeal and replace the SGR with a system with multiple options that recognizes the specialized care rheumatologists provide; and
- Support H.R. 1416 to exempt physician-administered drugs from Medicare sequestration and increase patients’ ability to access Part B treatments in their rheumatologist’s office.
Funding for Research
- Support S. 2658, the Accelerating Biomedical Research Act, sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). This legislation would create a budget cap adjustment for NIH funding over the remaining fiscal years of the Budget Control Act (BCA), allowing for increased funding for innovation and the discovery of new treatments and cures.
Join Your Colleagues in Advocacy this Month!
- Your participation is important. Write, call or e-mail your members of Congress in September. As a constituent, your opinions matter to those who are elected to represent you. Speak up, and let them know how you feel about the important issues facing rheumatology. Make a note to visit the ACR legislative action center in September to send your message to Congress and add your voice to your colleagues’ efforts on Capitol Hill: www.rheumatology.org/actioncenter/; and
- Schedule an in-district meeting with your members of Congress. Meeting face to face with your legislators and their staff provides you the opportunity to educate them on the issues and helps you to build and strengthen relationships. Contact ACR government affairs staff at email@example.com if you need assistance preparing for the meeting.
Be sure to involve your patients and staff; they’re constituents, too. Help spread the word by asking your patients and staff to share their experiences with members of Congress and to get involved in advocacy.