Senatorss Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), Kit Bond (R-Mo), and Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass) have reintroduced the Arthritis Prevention, Control and Cure Act of 2009, legislation that would authorize more than $600 million in federal funding over 5 years to prevent and treat arthritis and related rheumatic conditions.

Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. As many as 46 million Americans, including almost 300,000 children, live with arthritis. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), arthritis and related conditions cost the nation’s economy an estimated $128 billion annually in visits to physicians, surgeries, and missed work days.

Specifically, the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act would:

•    Authorize competitive grants for the coordination of research and training related to the control, prevention, and surveillance of arthritis.

•    Authorize grants to states and Indian tribes to support comprehensive arthritis control and prevention programs, and to provide public health surveillance, prevention, and control activities.

•    Authorize grants to public or nonprofit entities to support, develop, and implement arthritis education and outreach initiatives.

•    Establish an Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases Interagency coordinating committee to improve the exchange of information between federal agencies, researchers, clinicians, and arthritis community advocates.

In addition, the legislation would increase efforts to address juvenile arthritis by providing loan repayment to physicians who agree to practice pediatric rheumatology in underserved areas. The bill would also allow the CDC to coordinate and expand programs related to juvenile arthritis, collect data on juvenile arthritis, and develop a National Juvenile Arthritis patient registry.

Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif) also reintroduced the Arthritis Prevention, Control, and Cure Act in February 2009 in the House of Representatives.

[Source: Sen Barbara Boxer]