The 2017 Advocacy Summit was held March 6-7 in Washington, DC, and while the outcome is still developing, we are very pleased with the results thus far.
Arthritis affects people regardless of age or origin, so it was no surprise that this year’s Summit attendees were a mix of all ages from coast to coast. More than 400 people from 45 states attended.
Summit attendees participated in a variety of educational programs, all designed to help them better understand issues that are affecting easy access to affordable care, and how to communicate to policymakers the devastating effects of arthritis and critical need for their support. In the Social Media and Advocacy program, participants learned how to use Facebook and Twitter to communicate with lawmakers while increasing awareness. In the Understanding Patient Access: Prescription for Access program, Anna Hyde, senior director, advocacy and access, and Cavan Redmond, member, Arthritis Foundation board of directors, talked about common barriers to care, like step therapy and cost of medications, and our recent Prescription for Access initiative to make accessing care easier and more affordable.
At the Excellence in Advocacy Award Dinner, Staci Penner, ambassador from North Newton, Kansas, received the Edward M. Kennedy Advocacy Award, Graci Diggs, advocate from Tipton, Missouri, received the Emerging Leader in Advocacy Award. Representatives Fred Upton (R-MI) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) received the Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Leadership Award. The evening was highlighted by a record 41 volunteers earning Platinum Ambassador status.
The following morning, attendees participated in more than 250 face-to-face meetings with members of Congress and their staff. During these meetings, they shared their personal arthritis stories and asked them to incorporate patient centered priorities in any forthcoming repeal and replace health care legislation, support $20 million in funding for a Department of Defense arthritis research program, and join the Congressional Arthritis Caucus, a clearinghouse for members of Congress to learn about arthritis and exchange related information.
“The timing of our meetings couldn’t have been better,” said Sandie Preiss. “President Trump released his draft American Health Care Act on March 6 and it’s scheduled for a vote on March 23. It was a perfect opportunity for our Advocates to tell Congress about the devastating effects of arthritis and importance of improving access to care.”
Improving access to health care doesn’t happen without the help of volunteers who actively communicate with policymakers. Learn more about our Prescription for Access Program and become and Arthritis Foundation Advocate today!