Federal Advocacy – Key Issues

Each year ACR’s Government Affairs Committee decides which issues they will take to the Hill on behalf of the ACR/ARHP membership. The ACR is active on these issues in a variety of ways including: supporting legislation, joining coalitions, writing letters, and lobbying Congress. 

Improve Patient Access to Treatment

Advocate for access to treatments by eliminating specialty drug cost-tiering practices. See the full text of H.R.2999 - Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2017

Address the role of Pharmacy Benefit Managers in Prescription Drug Pricing.

Access to treatment under Medicare Part D - allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies in order to achieve more affordable pricing of drugs covered under Part D.

Funding for Biomedical Research

Arthritis, the nation's leading cause of disability, costs the U.S. $128 billion each year. The American College of Rheumatology strongly urges Congress to maintain current funding for federal programs engaged in vital research to combat arthritis and related rheumatic diseases. The number of people with arthritis and released diseases is projected to be 67 million by 2030. Specifically, ACR supports $32 billion for NIH, $13 million for the CDC Arthritis Program, and $20 million for a dedicated arthritis research program at the DOD.

Medical Research Improves the Health of Millions of Americans
Cuts to the national medical research budget deny hope to millions of patients and families struggling with rheumatic diseases. The U.S. leads the world in development of medical therapies, but budget cuts will dramatically slow down or halt progress.

Examples of federally funded projects directly benefiting patients and families suffering from rheumatic diseases:

  • NIH funding supports investigators at the University of Colorado who identified that lung inflammation is one of the earliest causes of rheumatoid arthritis. These findings are leading toward prevention of RA, a disease which leads to significant morbidity and increased mortality.
  • Thanks to NIH support, large multicenter projects including research teams in New York, Texas, California, and Massachusetts are able to study the relation to the genes of thousands of rheumatoid arthritis and lupus patients, leading to the identification of 20 genes each for each condition that will help explain the causes and lead to new treatments of these diseases.
  • NIH funding at the University of California is supporting research that has identified new ways of suppressing the immune system that will be less toxic than current methods used to treat autoimmune diseases affecting tens of thousands of people in the U.S. With federal funding, researchers identified a new genetic link to systemic sclerosis (also known as systemic scleroderma) and confirmed three previously discovered links to the disease, which can cause thickening of the skin, narrowing of blood vessels, and scarring of internal organs

Support Biomedical Research and Our Nation's Economy
Federal funding not only supports important biomedical research in rheumatic diseases, but also provides an economic stimulus to communities nationwide in the form of jobs and customers for local businesses. NIH awards and grants alone support over 350,000 jobs across the country. With continued advancements, the economy can look forward to long term stimulation through patents, devices, and new therapies and treatments.

NIH Support is Critical for Maintaining Our Nation's Medical and Scientific Workforce
NIH career development research and training grants support young trainees in the early stages of their research careers as gain experience to become independent researchers and medical school faculty throughout the country. Workforce studies by the ACR project a large faculty shortage for training the next generation of physicians in arthritis and rheumatic disease. NIH budget cuts would impact the U.S. academic research and training environment and would be detrimental to the entire medical profession and the patient communities they serve.

Funding for U.S. Medical Research

Create Stand-Alone Arthritis Research Program at the Department of Defense

Increase Rheumatology Training and Workforce Support

A rheumatology workforce shortage threatens the health and well being of 54 million Americans who live with arthritis and other rheumatologic diseases. Congress can take action by supporting policies that help expand the rheumatology workforce to meet the nation’s growing arthritis care needs. See how you can help address the rheumatology workforce shortage.

Develop performance measures for physicians that are linked to meaningful clinical outcomes and assessing elements of clinical care over which rheumatologists have direct control.

Other Key Issues