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ACR Cheers Funding for Rheumatology Research, Workforce Relief Inclusion in Recently Passed Federal Budget

March 25, 2024 | ACR NewsAdvocacy


ATLANTA — The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) today expressed strong support for several key measures included in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 budget. The budget allocates crucial funding to the Department of Defense’s Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program (CDMRP) for research on arthritis risks, outcomes, and treatments among service members; secures a significant funding increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the cornerstone of medical research in the United States; and extends the Conrad 30 program. This program allows foreign-trained physicians to seamlessly enter the United States healthcare workforce after residency completion.

“The ACR applauds Congress for including provisions in the budget that prioritize the future of rheumatology. This budget recognizes the critical need for both a stronger physician workforce and continued research funding for arthritis and rheumatic diseases, ultimately benefiting millions of patients,” said Deborah Dyett Desir, MD, president of the ACR.

The Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 delivers a win for veterans and active-duty service members. The act allocates $10 million in the CDMRP for needed arthritis-related research among those who serve our nation. This targeted funding is crucial considering the alarming statistic that one in three veterans is battling arthritis, making it the second leading cause of medical discharge from the Army. By supporting research in this area, the CDMRP benefits veterans and service members and contributes to a broader understanding of rheumatic diseases.

This package also secures a notable funding boost for the NIH, reversing earlier proposals for deep cuts. Importantly, it protects funding for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), which plays an important role in ongoing public health battles. This robust NIH funding ensures continued progress in critical medical research, including advancements in treatments and prevention strategies for rheumatic diseases.

The final spending bill also includes an extension of the Conrad 30 program, which allows U.S.-educated and trained physicians with a J-1 visa to enter the American medical workforce upon the completion of their residency. This delivers a much-needed boost to the American medical workforce given the current physician shortage. Typically, J-1 visa-holders training in the U.S. must return to their home country for two years after their program ends before they can apply for a work visa or green card to work in America. Each Conrad 30 waiver translates directly to a physician serving patients in underserved communities, for at least three years, who might otherwise face limited access to care.

“This budget represents a major victory for the 53.2 million Americans living with physician-diagnosed rheumatic conditions," said Desir. "Including these vital programs promises to unlock significant patient care and research advancements in the coming years. We eagerly await the positive impact this will have on millions of lives."


Media Contact
Monica McDonald


The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is an international medical society representing over 9,100 rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals with a mission to empower rheumatology professionals to excel in their specialty. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy, and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatologists are experts in the diagnosis, management, and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

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