Early and appropriate treatment by a rheumatologist is critical to prevent permanent disability and avoid costly procedures. There are nearly 300,000 American children suffering from juvenile arthritis, yet there are fewer than 400 board-certified pediatric rheumatologists in the United States. Similarly, the number of board-certified rheumatologists cannot meet the demand of the estimated 91 million Americans living with rheumatic disease. The gap between the supply and demand is growing in both populations
This problem is compounded by the concentration of these professionals in our most populated areas, leaving nearly 75% of juvenile arthritis patients to be treated by either pediatricians, who have not received the extra training to most effectively treat rheumatic diseases, or by adult rheumatologists, who may not be familiar with the diagnosis and management of pediatric-specific rheumatologic conditions or pediatric growth and development.
Ask your Senators to increase access to pediatric medical subspecialists by co-sponsoring S. 2443, the Investment in Tomorrow's Pediatric Health Care Workforce Act, to increase the number of pediatric subspecialists and child and adolescent mental health providers who practice in underserved areas by providing pediatric subspecialty loan repayment for health professionals that agree to work at least two years in pediatric medicine. S. 2443 also reauthorizes critical funding to increase access to providers in underserved areas and ensure a more diverse health care workforce able to meet the needs of the entire patient population.
Additionally, in the House, the REDI Act (H.R. 1554) would amend the Higher Education Act to defer the accumulation of interest on student loans for borrowers while they serve in a medical internship or residency program, which would make careers in medicine more accessible.