AAOS Bulletin - April, 2005

Research Capitol Hill Days focus on funding

Musculoskeletal conditions have an enormous impact on Americans and the entire health care system. They account for 136.8 million ambulatory health care visits, more than 3 million hospitalizations, approximately $245 billion dollars in medical costs and 488 million days of restricted work activity each year. In addition, musculoskeletal ailments account for more than 14 percent of the health care dollar—approximately 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent of the U.S. Gross National Product.

To raise awareness of the significance of musculoskeletal conditions, the AAOS sponsored its annual Research Capitol Hill Days on March 16-17, 2005. The event promotes increases in federal funding for musculoskeletal research. It gives the orthopaedic community—including orthopaedic surgeons, patients and researchers—the opportunity to meet with targeted members of Congress and personally advocate for the future of musculoskeletal care.

“One out of seven Americans is affected by a musculoskeletal condition and this number is on the rise,” stated Gunnar B.J. Andersson, MD, chairman of the AAOS Research Committee. “Orthopaedic conditions affect many individuals’ daily lives. It is important to make every effort to improve overall patient care and foster advancements in technology and treatments to identify preventive measures and possible cures.”

Despite the chronic nature and increasing prevalence of musculoskeletal conditions, funding for orthopaedic research has grown more slowly than other areas of research. President Bush’s fiscal year (FY) 2006 budget for the National Institutes of Health is $28.5 billion, with $513 million earmarked for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a 0.39 percent increase over FY2005. The orthopaedic community is urging Congress to appropriate $541.6 million in the FY2006 budget for NIAMS, a 6 percent increase. Advocacy efforts will specifically target the subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, which are part of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees.

This year, 24 patients and 35 orthopaedic surgeons and researchers spoke with legislators from their congressional districts and/or states about the need for more musculoskeletal funding. The patients, who included children with spinal cancer and Ewing’s Sarcoma as well as adults with degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis, told their personal stories, highlighting how advancements in orthopaedics have affected their lives.

“Our patients are truly inspiring,” said Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, chair of the AAOS Council on Research and Scientific Affairs. “Having them with us to tell their stories and help advocate for additional orthopaedic research funding enables us to deliver our message in a more effective fashion.”

For more information about AAOS Research Capitol Hill Days, visit http://www.aaos.org/Govern/Federal/CapHill/RCH_main.asp. Patient stories can be accessed at http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/stories.cfm.The June Bulletin will include a full report on the events of Research Capitol Hill Days.

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