PARKERSBURG - A Parkersburg woman attended the Arthritis Foundation's Advocacy Summit 2012 last month in Washington, D.C., as West Virginia's only advocate.
The three-day program featured seminars and meetings with congressional representatives with advocates from all 50 states, said Chris Poe.
"We attended several training sessions and went to Capitol Hill to meet with the congressmen," said Poe, an arthritis Tai Chi and aquatics instructor at the Family Fitness Center in Parkersburg.
Among representatives meeting with the advocates was Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., the sponsor of the Patients Access to Treatment Act, House Resolution 4209. The act limits the out-of-pocket expenses of specialty prescription drugs for arthritis.
"He spoke to us at one of our meetings," Poe said. "He encouraged us to find co-sponsors."
Ten congressmen have co-sponsored the legislation, she said.
The act was among the legislation and issues discussed with senators, representatives or their staffs, Poe said. It was the first time the summit was attended by advocates from all the states, she said.
The foundation also is lobbying for the Pediatric Subspecialty Loan Repayment Program to encourage pediatricians to specialize in arthritis, Poe said.
Across the country, less than only 250 pediatric rheumatologist are in practice, none in West Virginia, she said.
Veterans have twice the rate of osteoarthritis than the general population and the foundation supports research in post-traumatic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program at the Department of Defense.
The program funds research through a competitive application and review process.
The foundation supports increasing funding for research at the national Institutes of health into improving the quality of life for people with arthritis for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and for prevention with an additional $10 million for the arthritis program at the Centers for Disease Control to expand the program into additional states, such as West Virginia, Poe said.
More advocates are needed, Poe said. Information is available at the Arthritis Foundation website, www.arthritis.org. Poe can be contacted at 304-422-4101.
The next summit is March 2013.