Hello Patient Advocates

Recently, 75 physicians and health care professionals with the American College of Rheumatology traveled to our nation’s capital to meet with lawmakers and advocate for policies that will improve access to rheumatology care.

We asked lawmakers to #Act4Arthritis by supporting legislation to reform step therapy and prior authorization practices, strengthen the rheumatology workforce, and preserve patient access to osteoporosis testing. We also asked for arthritis-specific research funding through the Department of Defense.

Here’s an overview of some of the bipartisan, common-sense policy solutions we advocated for to ensure rheumatology patients receive timely, appropriate care. You can click on any of the “ask” items to send an email to your legislator and help us advocate for patients.

Safe Step Act of 2019 (H.R. 2279)

Introduced by Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Raul Ruiz (D-CA), two physician members of Congress who encountered step therapy in their own practices, this bipartisan legislation would place reasonable limits on the use of step therapy in employer-sponsored health plans and create a clear process for patients and doctors to seek exceptions. We asked our Representatives in Congress to support this legislation, which would build on reforms that have already passed in 20 states and stop treatment delays that put patients at unnecessary risk.

Learn why step-therapy is a step-back for patients

Ask your Member of Congress to support H.R. 2279

Increase Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act (S.283)

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced legislation that would restore a sustainable Medicare payment for DXA bone density scans performed in a physician’s office. A DXA test identifies patients with a high risk of bone fracture and is used to monitor the effectiveness of medical therapy to prevent and treat osteoporosis. While DXA is considered the “gold standard” for osteoporosis testing by the medical community, declining reimbursement rates are making these tests increasingly difficult to provide.

Ask Congress to support increased DXA reimbursement

That’s not all. When meeting with legislators, we also asked them to support medical education to address the pervasive rheumatology workforce shortage that makes it difficult for many Americans to find sufficient rheumatologic care. The Strengthening our Pediatric Workforce Act (H.R. 1656) and the Reauthorization of the Pediatric Specialty Loan Repayment Program would make it easier for students to pursue careers in medicine.

While it shouldn’t be the case, access to care remains an issue for too many patients. It’s our hope that by joining the voices of physicians and patients in advocacy, legislation will be passed that will make access to care a little bit easier.

As always, thank you for your advocacy!

Until next time,
Dr. Angus Worthing