Juvenile Arthritis Advocacy- Support Access to Pediatric Rheumatologists

Support $5 million for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program

The Facts:

Arthritis is a disabling and painful disease that affects 50 million Americans, including nearly 300,000 children.  Nearly one in 250 children is living with a form of arthritis. Juvenile arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases, affecting more children than cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy combined. 

Currently, there are fewer than 250 board-certified practicing pediatric rheumatologists in the United States and about 90 percent of them are clustered in and around large cities.  Eleven states do not have a single practicing pediatric rheumatologist – including West Virginia in the Great Lakes Region - and seven states have just one pediatric rheumatologist.  Of those children with juvenile arthritis, only 25 percent see a pediatric rheumatologist. 

The other 75 percent of juvenile arthritis patients see either pediatricians (who tend not to be trained in how to adequately care for juvenile arthritis) or adult rheumatologists, who aren't trained to deal with pediatric issues.  A delay in diagnosis and treatment for children with JA can lead to permanent disability and deformity. 


Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program:

The pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program was authorized by Section 5203 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March 2010. The program would incentivize training and practice in pediatric medical subspecialties, like pediatric rheumatology, in underserved areas across the United States. The program would offer up to $35,000 in loan forgiveness for each year of service for a maximum of three years.  The program was authorized for $30 million for 2010 through 2014, but has yet to appropriate any funding.

President Obama requested, in FY 2013 budget, $5 million to fund the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program.


What you can do to help:

  • Share this map that demonstrates the critical need for more pediatric rheumatologists in the United States.
  • Share this issue brief with your family, friends and community leaders.
  • Share this Arthritis Foundation letter with your member of Congress.
  • Download a joint letter submitted by the Arthritis Foundation and the American College of Rheumatology to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services requesting their support for this program.

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