Living with arthritis is enough to deal with day to day. Who needs the added challenge of navigating a complex health care system to get the treatments required to manage it?
At the Arthritis Foundation, we have an unwavering commitment to conquering arthritis in the long term and helping the more than 50 million Americans living with this debilitating and life-altering disease overcome everyday obstacles in the short term.
To achieve this, we are constantly listening to our community to identify current areas of concern – areas where we need to take action to improve lives today.
As we listen, we are hearing a mounting concern from our community about their ability to access affordable medications in a timely manner. For some, understanding the healthcare system is as difficult as understanding their disease. We recognize that it’s our job to help the arthritis community navigate the complex health care issues they are confronting. The Foundation has a successful track record of addressing access issues through our state legislative agenda.
To more proactively address the concerns of our constituents, we have launched a new initiative called Prescription for Access, and we have invited and will continue to invite key leaders from the pharmaceutical industry, insurers, pharmacy benefit managers, health care providers and key policymakers to meet with senior Arthritis Foundation leadership to create a shared understanding of the issues people with arthritis are facing and to formulate a new agenda for the Foundation centered on real-time short- and mid-term solutions.
These discussions have allowed key members in all related arenas to provide insights and address critical issues related to the complexities of the health care system and, in particular, the high out-of-pocket costs of prescription medications for people with arthritis.
Our discussions have ranged from consolidating available resources to help alleviate some of those costs in the short term, to mid-term solutions like finding ways to help make navigating health care an easier task for our community.
We are pleased to have the opportunity to take a draft of these proposed actions to this week’s Conference of Champions, a meeting of approximately 400 volunteers from across the country. Here we will have the opportunity to talk with individuals in focus groups, one-on-one meetings and roundtable discussions.
This critical dialogue about drug costs and barriers to care is key to ensuring that people with arthritis can access the treatments they so urgently need. We realize we MUST lead these discussions.
Our constituents are paying the price for the complexities of our health care system. To be the Champion of Yes, we are probing the system for practical solutions that will provide immediate help to those we serve.
Update 11/12/2016: Constant Commitment in the Wake of Transition, by Ann Palmer, Arthritis Foundation President & CEO