Representative Michael Burgess
U.S. Representative Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas) understands not only the inner workings of Congress; he also understands medicine. And, this understanding of medicine — coupled with Dr. Burgess' dedication to helping his constituents with rheumatic diseases — makes him one of rheumatology's Congressional champions.
As a former obstetrician-gynecologist, Dr. Burgess — who represents the 26th district of Texas and practiced medicine for nearly three decades — knows the importance of accessible and affordable health care. He is committed to helping patients and supports legislation that reduces costs and improves medical options.
In Congress, Burgess has called for repealing the sustainable growth rate, the flawed formula that is used to calculate physician reimbursements for treating Medicare patients.
"Representative Burgess recognizes the current SGR formula is a serious barrier to access for millions of rheumatology patients," says Tim Laing, MD; ACR government affairs chair and rheumatology faculty at the University of Michigan. "Rheumatologists provide essential care that can stop debilitating rheumatic disease symptoms and improve health outcomes and quality of life. Unfortunately, the SGR formula compromises rheumatologists' ability to afford to treat Medicare patients which could lead to major threats to patients' access to care. The ACR is truly fortunate that Representative Burgess understands the impact that the current SGR formula has on rheumatologists and patients."
Dr. Burgess also supported the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act of 2010 – a measure that encouraged additional arthritis research funding, new programs for early diagnosis and prevention of rheumatic diseases and fellowship opportunities for pediatric rheumatologists.
"The American College of Rheumatology appreciates Rep. Burgess' continued support and enthusiasm for the rheumatology community," says Dr Laing. "While the Arthritis Act was not pushed through Congress, it is clear that Rep. Burgess' remains dedicated to the rheumatology community and to improving the health care system as a whole."
Dr. Burgess chairs the Congressional Health Care Caucus and helps educate lawmakers and staff on the issues surrounding health care. He has also met with advocates for the rheumatology community during Advocates for Arthritis, the ACR's annual fly-in that brings rheumatology professionals and patients to Washington D.C. to meet with decision makers in Congress.
Last year, Dr. Burgess introduced 20 bills dealing with legislative issues that included health care, taxes, energy, the economy, and veterans. To recognize his efforts of advancing rheumatology issues, the ACR honored the congressman with the 2011 ACR Award for Public Leadership in Rheumatology.
Burgess remains committed to reforming health care and serves on several committees that will impact the future of rheumatology, including the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which he serves as Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health. The Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2012 (H.R.4209) – a bill that would make access to medically-necessary treatments more available to patients with chronic, disabling or life-threatening conditions – has been referred to this committee on which Dr. Burgess plays an important role. To learn more about Dr. Burgess, visit http://burgess.house.gov/.
The Simple Tasks campaign thanks Congressman Burgess for his continued support of rheumatology-related legislation. The ACR encourages other lawmakers to become Congressional champions for rheumatology by:
- Learning more about the Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2012:
The Patients' Access to Treatments Act of 2012 (H.R.4209) would limit co-payment, co-insurance or other cost-sharing requirements that insurance plans require for so-called "specialty" medications, such as the biologic medicines that can often prevent rheumatoid arthritis patients from becoming disabled. By reducing out-of-pocket costs, this legislation would make access to medically-necessary treatments more available to patients who have chronic, disabling or life-threatening conditions
- Learning about the Issues:
Learn how rheumatic diseases are affecting your constituents and how rheumatologists are helping them fight back. Rheumatologists and their patients are passionate and educated about the issues and are willing to share their knowledge with you.
- Championing Rheumatology Legislation:
Support legislation that ensures access to care for rheumatology patients and recognizes the true value of care provided by cognitive specialists such as rheumatologists.
- Reading and sharing the ACR's white paper:
The white paper, "Rheumatic Diseases in America: the problem, the impact, and the answers", features over 55 rheumatology related citations from medical journals, rheumatology organizations and media.
To learn more about the Simple Tasks campaign or about the ACR's advocacy issues contact Erin Latimer at (404) 633-3777 or firstname.lastname@example.org