All 50 states were represented by a total of 350 advocates in Washington D.C. last week for the 2012 Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Summit. The Upper Midwest Region sent 20 people from Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.
Countless meetings with members of congress took place to deliver key messages around three priority areas.
Access to Care
- Support H.R. 4209, the Patients’ Access to Treatments Act aimed at ending discrimination and excessive cost-sharing and ultimately improving access to specialty tiered medications which can halt disease progression and prevent disability.
- Support $5 million for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program included in President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget. This program is aimed at improving access to care for the 300,000 children in the U.S. with juvenile arthritis currently being served by only 200 pediatric rheumatologists nationwide.
- Support Department of Defense research to help reduce the arthritis burden on veterans. (Veterans have twice the rate of osteoarthritis than non-veterans. Arthritic changes are the leading cause of medical discharge in active service members under age 40.)
- Include “post traumatic osteoarthritis” and “rheumatoid arthritis” research at the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) at the Department of Defense (DOD).
- Increase research funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).
- Support the CDC Arthritis program with an additional $10 million in funding to $23 million to allow expansion of funding to more states. Currently there are 12 states with CDC grant funding, including Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Leading arthritis researcher, Dr. John O’Shea gave a fascinating presentation around the progression of research over the last couple decades. When asked his thoughts on the message advocates should bring to Capitol Hill, Dr. O’Shea said, “We’ve made such incredible progress in research over the last 10-15 years and it would be crazy to consider anything other than increasing future research funding. A new oral biologic is going to the FDA next month for their formal approval process with the hope that it will be available on the market in the near future. There is much promise in what lies ahead.”
You can also read a local Minnesota Arthritis Advocate’s recap of the Summit on her personal blog here. Thanks to Angela for documenting her time and travels for the sake of fighting arthritis!
We all know that ignoring arthritis is unacceptable. Let’s be sure the President and Members of Congress hear our voice!