One in five American adults live with a diagnosis of arthritis. That means 50 million adults in our country are afflicted with the disease. An additional 300,000 children under the age of 18 have arthritis. By 2030, estimates are that total will soar to 67 million Americans. Arthritis is responsible for 44 million hospital outpatient visits each year and leads to one million hospitalizations. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of the disease.
The Arthritis Foundation has a vision of creating a world free from arthritis and the limitations it creates. Their more immediate goal is to reduce the number of people suffering from arthritis-related physical limitations by 20% before 2030. They hope to do this with increased education, outreach programs, research and advocacy. Their current priorities fall in to three categories: Access to Care, Research & Prevention, and Awareness.
Access to Care
The Arthritis Foundation has identified two areas of focus for access to care:
- One goal is to end discrimination against specialty tier medications. Prescription drugs that can sometimes benefit patients the most are considered fourth tier. That means that instead of a fixed amount per medication, insurance companies require patients to pay a percentage. This often results in medications being too expensive for patients to afford.
- The other priority is to help increase access to Pediatric Rheumatologists by helping with loan repayments for physicians who opt for this specialty. There are currently less than 250 board-certified Pediatric Rheumatologists in the country.
Research & Prevention
The top three initiatives that fall under this category include:
- To fund research at the Department of Defense that explores the growing evidence linking active duty combat with osteoarthritis (OA). It is the leading cause of disability and medical discharge for active service members under the age of 40.
- Continued funding of arthritis research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes cartilage research, trials to test if daily calcium supplements improve bone mineral density in children, and more.
- Increase funding for arthritis prevention at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The CDC Arthritis Program works to improve the quality of life for people living with arthritis. They focus on creating awareness for best self-management practices and widening the reach of programs known to have a positive impact on quality of life.
The two areas currently considered most crucial for the Arthritis Foundation are:
- Build a Bicameral Congressional Arthritis Caucus to help address the issues related to arthritis, including the fact that it is the number one cause of disability. Arthritis creates direct and indirect expenses that total $128 billion each year.
- Work to make Arthritis a national priority with public health efforts similar to other chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.
To help the Arthritis Foundation continue their efforts, The Bristal has chosen them as one of our three Pay-It-Forward recipients. For every “Like” our Arthritis Foundation posts receive on Facebook from 12/08/13 through 12/21/13 we will donate $1 to the organization, up to $2,500. Show your support for this great cause by sharing our posts with your friends on Facebook and encouraging them to “Like” these Facebook posts, too.