How You Can Help
We need you, now more than ever. Here are the top 11 ways you can get involved in advocating for rheumatology and for yourself:
1 Develop a personal relationship with your representatives in Congress and their staff. Visit them while you’re in Washington, D.C., or at their home offices in your state. ACR member Sharad Lakhanpal, MD, used his long political involvement to obtain Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chair of the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Health, as the keynote speaker for the ACR Board of Director’s meeting in Washington, D.C., this past May. Rep. Pallone’s committee has jurisdiction over general healthcare issues, including the Arthritis Prevention Control and Cure Act of 2007 (H.R.1283).
2 Invite your Congressional representatives or a member of their staff to spend a day in your office. ACR member Al Denio, MD, demonstrated impressive leadership by inviting his Congresswoman, Rep. Thelma Drake (R-VA), to visit his office this year during Congress’ spring recess. During the visit, Rep. Drake witnessed DXA screenings and the value of having the procedure performed in an office as opposed to a hospital. She spoke to a patient receiving intravenous biologic therapy for RA. As a result of the visit, Rep. Drake signed on as a co-sponsor to the Arthritis Act and agreed to write a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services regarding IV ibandronate. Allowing members of Congress to witness firsthand the daily routines within a rheumatology office gives them great perspective on the severity of the patients’ conditions, importance of the procedures, reimbursement needs of physicians, and necessity for research on arthritis and other rheumatic diseases.
3 Attend fundraising events for state and national candidates. Contribute if you are supportive of their efforts. Volunteer your time to election campaigns. All politics are local, and cultivating relationships at the inception of someone’s service (or at the time of re-election) is an invaluable opportunity.
4 When asked to do so, write letters to Congress. Go to www.rheumatology.org and click our Legislative Action Center, www.capwiz.com/acr. There you can read about the issues we’re currently advocating for. We offer tools you can use to easily find your members of Congress and send them your thoughts. We offer prepared letters on these issues, and encourage you to add your own personal story. You can always contact our Government Affairs department to assist you in your efforts; they are ready, willing, and able to help make your voice heard.