Arthritis advocates take case to congressman

September 28, 2010

By Laura Geggel

Congressman Dave Reichert listened to Issaquah residents Peggy Timmins and 11-year-old Alicia Seidel talk about their support for the Arthritis Prevention Control and Cure Act at his office Sept. 17.

Reichert, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, said he was there to listen, but said it was unlikely Congress would pass the act this session because of the budget deficit.

“I don’t want you to stop bugging me,” he said, adding, “I’ll be honest with you. I’ll be surprised if anything happens with it this year.”

The act passed the House of Representatives in 2008.

Since then, the bill has changed. Advocates expect language will be removed about educational loans for pediatric rheumatologists, since those loans are now covered by President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plan.

Director of Programs and Services for the Arthritis Foundation’s Pacific Northwest chapter Johanna Lindsay accompanied Timmins and Seidel to Reichert’s office. She said that military veterans are about twice as likely to get osteoarthritis than the general population. If the arthritis bill were passed, it would focus not only on prevention, but also treatment and research, she said.

Reichert said he agreed with the research and prevention aspects, telling a story of when he worked with the King County Sheriff’s Office on crime prevention.

“You can spend your money here, or you can spend it there in alcohol and drug abuse counseling,” he said. “My advice is to spend it here.”

Lindsay said research dollars would help scientists look at injuries that cause arthritis, and could also help develop a screening test to catch arthritis earlier. The earlier the disease is treated, the less joint damage people will have, she said.

The act was approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Sept. 23, and will next go to the full House for a vote.

If the bill makes it out of the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the Senate will also vote on the measure. Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray co-sponsored the bill.

Laura Geggel: 392-6434, ext. 241, or lgeggel@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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