Greetings, patient advocates! Dr. Will Harvey here, Chair of the Government Affairs Committee at the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and Director of the Arthritis Treatment Center at Tufts Medical Center.
I’m sad to say that this will be my final blog post as Government Affairs Chair. It’s been phenomenal serving as a voice for patient advocates and rheumatologists in Washington, D.C. during various fly-ins and Capitol Hill briefings over the last few years, but now it is time for me to pass the torch to a fellow ACR rheumatologist!
Looking back on my time leading the committee, there are three issues that we’ve worked on where I’m really proud of the progress we’ve made:
- Preserving patient access to treatments. This year, we have strongly pushed back against the proposed Medicare Part B drug demonstration that would severely limit patient access to critical drugs. We have also continued to support the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act (PATA), a bill sponsored by Rep. David McKinley (W-VA), which would make biologic therapies placed on insurance “specialty tiers” more affordable for patients.
- Increased researching funding. I am so proud of the work we have done to help ensure that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) received the funding increases it needed to secure the next generation of new therapies and breakthroughs for Americans living with rheumatic diseases, including the men and women serving our country in the U.S. Armed Forces.
- Reducing administrative burdens so that rheumatologists can focus on the doctor-patient relationship. From helping rheumatologists transition to a new Medicare payment system to creating an ICD-10 safe harbor period, the ACR has worked hard to ensure that in the midst of these changes, rheumatologists are able to focus time and energy on what matters most: our patients.
Although my tenure as the Government Affairs chair is ending, our work is far from finished! My good friend Dr. Angus Worthing (@AngusWorthing), of Arthritis and Rheumatism Associates P.C. in Washington, D.C., will be succeeding me as chair next month. Dr. Worthing brings a wealth of clinical and advocacy experience to the position, and I’m confident that he will be a strong voice for the rheumatology community in the coming years. Be sure to check back in November for his first blog post.