Your voice matters! And this month, you’ll have the opportunity to tell Congress exactly what you think — even though you might not be able to join us on Capitol Hill.
The Arthritis Foundation’s Virtual Summit provides people who are not attending the 2016 Advocacy Summit an easy and effective way to share their arthritis story and ask Congress for support – without actually being in Washington, DC. The Virtual Summit consists of two different components.
HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE?
- Send us your letters! Prior to the Summit, we’re gathering letters of support that we can use during Summit later in March. Using online templates and tools, anyone who is affected by arthritis can write a letter to Congress. Then, during the Advocacy Summit, March 14-15, our Advocates will print and hand-deliver your letter to Congress on your behalf! The deadline to write letters is March 4. Take action now by clicking here.
- Tweet your support! During the Summit, we ask those of you who are unable to travel to DC to join us online for the Virtual Advocacy Summit! Throughout the Summit, we will be sharing information about the different issues described below on our official Arthritis Foundation social media channels. We need YOU to tweet about the issues that matter to the arthritis community and echo our voice so we can make an even greater impact! Join the conversation and watch for critical updates using the hashtag #AdvocateforArthritis, and watch the Virtual Summit unfold at arthritis.org/Summit2016!
LEARN ABOUT OUR KEY ISSUES
- Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act of 2015: As many of you already know, there is a severe shortage of board-certified pediatric rheumatologists in the U.S. There are fewer than 250 board certified pediatric rheumatologists nationwide to care for an estimated 300,000 kids who have arthritis. Eleven states have no pediatric rheumatologists and seven states have only one. If enacted, HR 1859, Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act of 2015, will address this shortage by creating a student loan forgiveness program that targets physicians who agree to work in underserved fields and markets. We are asking Congress members to co-sponsor and/or support this bill.
- Arthritis Research at the Department of Defense: One out of every three veterans and service members in the United States lives with arthritis compared to 1 in 5 adults in the general population. The disease interferes with our service members’ ability to perform their duties, premature discharge from the military, excessive healthcare costs and significant quality-of-life issues. While the Department of Defense has funded arthritis research and programs in the past, dedicated funding does not exist. We are asking Congress to establish $20 million in dedicated funding for arthritis programs and research.
- Increasing Members of the Congressional Arthritis Caucus: Awareness is one of the major roadblocks in conquering arthritis. As a result, achieving support for research and programs can be difficult. The Foundation created the Congressional Arthritis Caucus as a way to educate members of Congress about arthritis, how it impacts their communities and how to support federal and local efforts to address and conquer the disease. We are asking Congress members to join and support the Caucus’ activities.
While you might not be in close proximity to Washington DC on March 14 and 15, your voice can and will be heard. But it doesn’t happen without action! By sharing your personal arthritis story with legislators, you can become part of the solution. Take action by completing your letter today!