American College of Rheumatology & Arthritis Foundation Host ‘Arthritis 101’ Congressional Briefing

The Congressional briefing strives to educate new and returning Congressional leaders about arthritis and its impact on constituents and the U.S. healthcare system.

WASHINGTON, DC (Jan. 31, 2017) – Experts from the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) and the Arthritis Foundation today held an “Arthritis 101” Congressional briefing to educate new and returning Congressional leaders about arthritis and its impact on constituents and the U.S. healthcare system. The event was co-sponsored by Congressional Arthritis Caucus co-chairs Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and David McKinley (R-WV) and moderated by former U.S. Senator Tim Hutchinson (R-AR). 

More than 52 million Americans (one in five Americans) have doctor-diagnosed arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Arthritis is currently the leading cause of disability in the United States and contributes an estimated $128 billion annually in U.S. healthcare costs.

Briefing panelists provided lawmakers and their staff with an overview of arthritis, some of the current health care challenges facing their constituents, and potential policy solutions.

“Millions of Americans living with arthritis and other rheumatic diseases face enormous obstacles when trying to access safe, effective and affordable health care,” said Dr. Angus Worthing, MD, FACP, practicing rheumatologist and chair of the ACR’s Government Affairs Committee. “Now more than ever, we need practical solutions to expand access to care and improve the quality of life for people living with arthritis. We look forward to working with new and returning members of Congress to address some of these cost and access challenges.” 

The rheumatology workforce shortage, including a growing shortage of pediatric rheumatologists, was one of the access challenges highlighted by the panel. Shannon O’Hara Levi, a juvenile arthritis patient and Arthritis Foundation advocate, discussed the travel challenges and delays in care she experienced as a result of the lack of available pediatric specialists in her home state of New York.

 “I’ve never known life without juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) but remain hopeful for a cure,” said Shannan O’Hara-Levi, juvenile arthritis patient and Arthritis Foundation Advocate. “Upon my diagnosis at age three, my family was told that I’d be wheelchair bound by age six, which thankfully didn’t happen. While I’ve never experienced remission from my disease, I am grateful where I am in my life, how I’ve gotten here and all of those involved with keeping me healthy and on my feet.”

In addition to the rheumatology specialist shortage, patients face additional hurdles like access to the drugs that help manage their disease at a cost they can afford.

“People with arthritis live in fear of losing access to their prescription drugs and have to fight tirelessly to keep access to the drugs they need to keep their disease under control,” said Cavan Redmond, former CEO of WebMD, pharmaceutical health care executive and Arthritis Foundation board member. “To begin chipping away at this problem and better understand the ‘great health care disconnect’ between patients, policy-makers and health care industry leaders, we sat down with health care leaders across the industry and then met one-on-one with patients, in focus groups to understand their challenges. Based on our findings, we launched an initiative – called Prescription for Access – to actively address the concerns of people with arthritis, including providing policy recommendations and principles for the new Congress to consider.”

Panelists also discussed the need for a stand-alone arthritis medical research program within the Department of Defense.

 “Arthritis disproportionately affects U.S. service members and veterans, yet unlike other diseases related to military service, there is no dedicated research budget at the Department of Defense to explore arthritis prevention strategies, treatments and cures,” said Dr. Colin Edgerton, a member of the ACR’s Committee on Rheumatologic Care, former Army physician, and practicing rheumatologist. “We have an opportunity – and, in my view, an obligation – to ensure the healthcare needs of service members living with arthritis are met. Our Congressional leaders can help us achieve this goal by supporting the appropriation of $20 million in existing funding for the creation of a stand-alone arthritis research program within the Department of Defense.”

The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is the nation’s leading advocacy organization for the rheumatology care community, representing more than 6,400 U.S. rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals. As an ethically driven, professional membership organization committed to improving healthcare for Americans living with rheumatic diseases, the ACR advocates for high-quality, high-value policies and reforms that will ensure safe, effective, affordable and accessible rheumatology care. For more information, visit www.rheumatology.org. 

Arthritis Foundation

The Arthritis Foundation is the Champion of Yes. Leading the fight for the arthritis community, the Foundation helps conquer everyday battles through life-changing information and resources, access to optimal care, advancements in science and community connections. The Arthritis Foundation’s goal is to chart a winning course, guiding families in developing personalized plans for living a full life – and making each day another stride towards a cure. The Foundation also publishes Arthritis Today, the award-winning magazine that reaches 4 million readers per issue.

Media Contact:

Erin Schmidt

(703) 548-0019

[email protected]

I Want to Contribute
I Need Help
  • Donate

    Donate

    Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life.

  • Volunteer

    Volunteer

    Join us and become a Champion of Yes. There are many volunteer opportunities available.

  • Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Live Yes! INSIGHTS

    Take part to be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis.

  • Partner

    Partner

    Proud Partners of the Arthritis Foundation make an annual commitment to directly support the Foundation’s mission.

Donate


Ways to Give

Every gift to the Arthritis Foundation will help people with arthritis across the U.S. live their best life. Whether it is supporting cutting-edge research, 24/7 access to one-on-one support, resources and tools for daily living, and more, your gift will be life-changing.

Make a Donation

Help millions of people live with less pain and fund groundbreaking research to discover a cure for this devastating disease. Please, make your urgently-needed donation to the Arthritis Foundation now!

Become a Member

Become an Arthritis Foundation member today for just $20. You'll receive a year's worth of Arthritis Today magazine, access to helpful tools, resources, and more.

Make a Honor or Memorial Gift

Honor a loved one with a meaningful donation to the Arthritis Foundation. We'll send a handwritten card to the honoree or their family notifying them of your thoughtful gift.

Gift Planning

I want information on ways to remember the AF in my will, trust or other financial planning vehicles.
 

Volunteer


Volunteer Opportunities

The Arthritis Foundation is focused on finding a cure and championing the fight against arthritis with life-changing information, advocacy, science and community. We can only achieve these goals with your help. Strong, outspoken and engaged volunteers will help us conquer arthritis. By getting involved, you become a leader in our organization and help make a difference in the lives of millions. Join us and become a Champion of Yes.


More About Volunteering

Live Yes! INSIGHTS


Give Just 10 Minutes.

Tell us what matters most to you. Change the future of arthritis.

By taking part in the Live Yes! INSIGHTS assessment, you’ll be among those changing lives today and changing the future of arthritis, for yourself and for 54 million others. And all it takes is just 10 minutes.

Your shared experiences will help:

- Lead to more effective treatments and outcomes
- Develop programs to meet the needs of you and your community
- Shape a powerful agenda that fights for you

Now is the time to make your voice count, for yourself and the entire arthritis community. 

Currently this program is for the adult arthritis community.  Since the needs of the juvenile arthritis (JA) community are unique, we are currently working with experts to develop a customized experience for JA families. 

How are you changing the future?

By sharing your experience, you’re showing decision-makers the realities of living with arthritis, paving the way for change. You’re helping break down barriers to care, inform research and create resources that make a difference in people’s lives, including your own.

Get Started

Partner


Meet Our Partners

As a partner, you will help the Arthritis Foundation provide life-changing resources, science, advocacy and community connections for people with arthritis, the nations leading cause of disability. Join us today and help lead the way as a Champion of Yes.

Trailblazer

Our Trailblazers are committed partners ready to lead the way, take action and fight for everyday victories. They contribute $2,000,000 to $2,749,000

Visionary

Our Visionary partners help us plan for a future that includes a cure for arthritis. These inspired and inventive champions have contributed $1,500,00 to $1,999,999.

Pioneer

Our Pioneers are always ready to explore and find new weapons in the fight against arthritis. They contribute $1,000,000 to $1,499,999.

Pacesetter

Our Pacesetters ensure that we can chart the course for a cure for those who live with arthritis. They contribute $500,000 to $999,000.

Signature

Our Signature partners make their mark by helping us identify new and meaningful resources for people with arthritis. They contribute $250,000 to $499,999.

Supporting

Our Supporting partners are active champions who provide encouragement and assistance to the arthritis community. They contribute $100,000 to $249,999.