WASHINGTON, DC – Physician members of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), care team members of the Association of Rheumatology Professionals (ARP), and patients living with rheumatic diseases convened on Capitol Hill this week for the annual Advocates for Arthritis conference and to support legislative solutions to issues impacting patient access to care. Ninety patient and ACR/ARP member advocates met with over 100 Congressional offices to share their experiences and explain the impact of bills reforming insurer policies that delay patients’ access to medically necessary care and the impact of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) on increasing out-of-pocket costs for treatments.
“As a practicing rheumatologist, the health and well-being of my patients come first. The halls of Congress are where protections from nefarious insurance practices can be enforced. We were pleased to have an audience with members of Congress who understand certain flaws in our healthcare system that threaten patient well-being need to be addressed,” said Dr. Christina Downey, Chair of ACR’s Committee on Government Affairs. “ACR is committed to ensuring patients with rheumatic diseases receive the best care so they can live healthier lives. Congress must work in a bipartisan fashion to erect guardrails around unnecessary insurance barriers that ultimately impact patient health.”
ACR advocates asked lawmakers to support the Safe Step Act of 2023 (S.652/H.R.2630), which would create a clear and transparent process for patients with employer-sponsored insurance to seek exceptions to step therapy requirements. Additionally, the advocates urged support for the PBM reform legislative packages moving through both chambers that would increase transparency in PBM practices and aim to drive down drug costs.
“September is Rheumatic Disease Awareness Month, and it is the perfect opportunity for rheumatology patients and healthcare professionals to educate lawmakers about obstructive barriers to timely, affordable care they are encountering,” said Dr. Downey. “The ACR and our advocate network look forward to continuing to work with legislators to advance legislation that increases access to rheumatology care for the over 58.5 million Americans living with a rheumatic disease.”
About the American College of Rheumatology
Founded in 1934, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is a not-for-profit, professional association committed to advancing the specialty of rheumatology that serves nearly 8,500 physicians, health professionals, and scientists worldwide. 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. Rheumatology professionals are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.