Nearly 300,000 children in US suffer from arthritis, yet there are about 240 pediatric rheumatologists to treat them all. Some states do not have a single pediatric rheumatologist, and most have just a few! This means that many children simply do not have access to a rheumatologist and are not getting the care they need. This is an awful situation for children and families, and SAA and our advocates have been urging Congress and the Administration to help alleviate this problem.
We are hopeful today that this shortage might soon begin to be eased as the 2013 budget recently released by the President has set aside $5 million dollars to fund an incentive program to bring in more doctors into pediatric specialties, including pediatric rheumatology. The pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program, "would incentivize physicians to select pediatric subspecialties by alleviating debt incurred during a pediatric subspecialty fellowship. The program would provide physicians up to $35,000 in loan forgiveness for each year of service in an underserved area, for a maximum of three years."(ACR)
This is a good start, and we thank and applaud the Administration for this step! We ask Congress to approve funding for this program, and help families who now have to travel long distances and face long waits to seek treatment for their child.
Should you wish to contact the White House about this program, you can do so by clicking here. You can also contact your representatives to ask them to approve funding for the pediatric subspecialty loan repayment program (already authorized in Section 5203 of the Affordable Care Act) once the budget reaches Congress. Information on contacting your representatives can be found by clicking here.
Thank you for all of your advocacy efforts! As we've seen time and time again, there is power in numbers and together we can affect great change.
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