Hello patient advocates. Happy Holidays! Dr. Angus Worthing here, Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the American College of Rheumatology (ACR).
As we wrap up 2016, I want to thank our patient advocates for your dedication and hard work this year. Your voices have been – and will continue to be – incredibly powerful forces in our efforts to advocate for Americans living with rheumatic diseases. With your help, we were able to raise awareness about rheumatic diseases and advance healthcare policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care.
Check out this infographic to see some of the highlights from the ACR’s 2016 advocacy activities. Here are just a few of the successes that were made possible with the help of patient advocates like you.
With your help, we were able to put the brakes on a government proposal that would have made it more difficult for Medicare patients to access to biologic therapies. If implemented, the Part B drug demo would have significantly cut payments for doctor-administered drugs under the Medicare program. As a result, many rheumatologists would have been forced to stop providing biologic treatments, driving patients into the hospital setting where they would face higher copayments, more expensive facility fees, and longer travel times to get the biologic therapies they need. Thousands of calls, emails, and letters from our patient advocates helped the ACR to generate bipartisan Congressional opposition to the proposal and stop the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from finalizing the proposal this year.
With your support, we successfully recognized the nation’s first Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month. In September, members of the rheumatology community came together to raise awareness about the 52 million Americans living with rheumatic diseases. Your tweets and Facebook posts about RDAM were seeing by millions of Americans, and we even earned official recognition for the month with a bipartisan Congressional Resolution introduced by Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA). Jennie Garth, actress and arthritis advocate, also teamed up with the ACR to produce a national television public service announcement during RDAM. Watch the PSA >
Thanks to your interest and dedication, the ACR was able to bring dozens of patient advocates to Washington, D.C. this year for more than 250 meetings with lawmakers. Collectively, our advocates sent more than 7,800 emails to members of Congress on policy issues and published 42 letters to the editor in newspapers nationwide. When constituents reach out to lawmakers about how policies affect them directly, they listen. If you are interested in holding a meeting with your lawmaker next year, see how you can get involved.
That’s all for now. Thanks again for your continued commitment to ACR’s patient advocacy efforts. On behalf of everyone at ACR, I wish you a relaxing and fun-filled holiday season.
See you in 2017!
Dr. Angus Worthing