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ACR Board of Directors meet at the Annual Meeting


5 minutes

On Saturday, the ACR Board of Directors met to discuss current and future initiatives that impact the ACR’s diverse membership and advance rheumatology. 

The board meeting was led by current ACR President Paula Marchetta, MD, MBA, who ends her term at this Annual Meeting. Ellen M. Gravallese, MD, begins her term as ACR President at the Annual Business Meeting today at 1:30 pm in Room A311, Building A in the Georgia World Congress Center. Guests included representatives from the Canadian Rheumatology Association (CRA), the Pan American League of Associations for Rheumatology (PANLAR), the American Medical Association (AMA), the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

Annual Meeting Modernization

The board approved a new Education Strategic Plan in February 2019. This bold, transformative vision for education was announced during the Opening Lecture on Saturday. The ACR is pilot testing new educational features during the Annual Meeting, with sneak previews on display in the Exhibit Hall. 

New ACR Task Forces Take Shape

The ACR will launch two new task forces in the coming year, Dr. Marchetta said. The Governance Task Force will review ACR governance policies and procedures to address members’ needs in a changing healthcare landscape. Co-chairs are Angus Worthing, MD, and Abby Abelson, MD. The Global Strategy Task Force, co-chaired by Evelyn Hsieh, MD, PhD, and Eric Matteson, MD, will shape a cohesive plan to expand the ACR’s global footprint and evaluate opportunities for collaboration with international partners. 

Online Disclosure Form

Jane Kang, MD, MS, Chair of the Committee on Ethics and Conflict of Interest, shared proposed modifications to the ACR Volunteer Disclosure Form, including conversion to an online form in the 2020 volunteer year using Convey, a global disclosure system. The online disclosure form would simplify the disclosure process for ACR volunteers. The board passed the motion to modify the disclosure form with three amendments.

Gout Guideline

Sindhu Johnson, MD, PhD, incoming Chair of the Committee on Quality Care, led a discussion on the gout clinical practice guideline currently in review. Board feedback will be provided to the guideline authors, with final ACR review scheduled for late February, after journal review.

Foundation Campaign Soars

Abby G. Abelson, MD, current President of the Rheumatology Research Foundation, presented updates on the Foundation’s Leading Boldly: Transforming Rheumatology campaign to raise $75 million over 60 months. The campaign has reached 76% of its goal, with $57,124,061 raised so far. Since 1985, the Foundation has committed $170 million directly to research and training. Since 2003, the Foundation’s funding has yielded a 53% increase in the number of rheumatology fellow graduates. The Foundation has also provided $56.3 million in funding over the past five years. ACR Executive Vice President Steven Echard, CAE, IOM, informed the board that 100% of ACR staff donated to the Leading Boldly campaign prior to the Annual Meeting.

Advocacy Outreach Grows

Top legislative policy priorities in 2019 included step therapy and prior authorizations, said Government Affairs Committee Chair Angus Worthing, MD. To maximize its advocacy efforts, the ACR’s new government affairs office in Washington, D.C., recently welcomed a new Director, Regulatory Affairs, and Manager, Advocacy and Political Affairs. 

Advocacy efforts yielded important results in 2019, said Colin Edgerton, MD, Chair, Committee on Rheumatologic Care. The CMS Final Rule Summary was amended to include an estimated 15% pay increase for rheumatology, primarily due to increased E/M code reimbursements. The Insurance Subcommittee has sent 33 letters to payers since October 2018 to address coverage issues impacting rheumatologists and their patients.

RheumPAC continues to focus on growing investment and awareness among ACR and ARP members, said Chair Zach Wallace, MD, MSc. So far, 6% of the membership has invested, with a goal of 10%. RheumPAC has launched Access 2020, a two-year campaign on its activities and the importance of investing. 

Publications Make Strides

The ACR’s three journals expanded their visibility on social media in 2019 with the addition of Social Media Editor Paul Sufka, MD. Arthritis & Rheumatology celebrated its highest Impact Factor score ever in 2018, making it the third-highest ranked rheumatology journal, said Editor in Chief Richard Bucala, MD, PhD. New Editor in Chief Daniel H. Solomon, MD, MPH, takes the helm of A&R in July 2020.

Arthritis Care & Research’s Impact Factor also rose in 2018, placing it among the top 10 rheumatology journals, said Editor in Chief Marian T. Hannan, DSc, MPH. AC&R now offers video abstracts and other services to authors, and its search for a new Editor in Chief is in full swing. 

ACR Open Rheumatology, the ACR’s new open access journal, launched in 2019, and has received more than 200 manuscript submissions so far, said Edward Yelin, PhD, Co-Editor in Chief. Wiley, the journal’s publisher, will offer a 20% discount on the article page charge fee for non-member authors presenting abstracts at the 2019 Annual Meeting.

The Rheumatologist newsmagazine continues to grow, with new features and formats to appeal to a wider audience. For the 10th consecutive year, the publication was honored with an APEX award for editorial excellence.

AMA, NIAMS, and NIAID Updates

The ACR will retain two slots on the AMA’s House of Delegates, which meets from Nov. 15-19 in San Diego, said Gary L. Bryant, MD, MACR, the ACR’s AMA representative. Important resolutions will include private payer and office visit policies, public reporting of pharmacy benefit manager rebates, and patient protections against step therapy protocols. 

NIAMS launched a new strategic plan for 2020-2024, Promote the Unexpected, to create an environment to foster new discoveries never before envisioned, said Robert H. Carter, MD, Acting Director. 

Researchers working with human fetal tissues (HFT) face new requirements to receive funding, including providing specific justifications for HFT research and information on tissue procurement and costs, said Daniel Rotrosen, MD, Director of NIAID. NIAID’s new Innovator Award Pilot Program will fund early-stage investigator applications that propose bold new ideas at $300,000 a year for five years.

General Business

The board approved the audited financial statements for the 2019 fiscal year in two formats to meet federal requirements for organizations that receive government funding. The board also approved 271 new ACR members and 123 new ARP members.