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CSRO 2023 State Society Advocacy Conference: In Review

Rheumatology Advocates Travel to the Friendship State CSRO's Annual Advocacy Conference

Posted: September 1, 2023

State rheumatology leaders from across the country gathered in Austin, Texas this past weekend for the Coalition of State Rheumatology Organizations (CSRO) Advocacy Conference and 20th Anniversary Celebration. Attendees learned about the latest advocacy issues of impact to the rheumatology community.

The meeting started on Friday evening with a federal update during dinner. Judith Gorsuch, CSRO’s federal legislative policy consultant, provided an overview of the current political climate in D.C. and potential policies moving forward in Congress.

Saturday’s sessions started with presentations from CSRO’s federal regulatory and state policy consultants. Brian Henderson informed attendees about all the ongoing priority issues in the states, which included a study that showed that over 70% of physicians were not aware about step therapy laws in place in their state. Emily Graham went on to educate members on regulatory efforts and how the CSRO was responsible for getting the CMS Request for Information (RFI) on downcoding and the self-administered drug (SAD) list determinations.

The morning continued with Dr. Madelaine Feldman, CSRO’s Vice President of Advocacy & Government Affairs, providing patient, professional, and personal policy perspectives on issues like accumulator adjustment programs, pharmacy benefit manager reform, and other access and affordability challenges. Dr. Michael Saitta and Mark Blum wrapped up the morning sessions with an interesting conversation on how to create competition for PBMs in the current marketplace. Mr. Blum shared that by using the reverse auction model in states, New Jersey saved $1.6 billion dollars over a three-year period.

The conference keynote speaker, Dr. Alex Oshmyansky, provided some policy relief for attendees as he talked about his vision as founder of The Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company. Dr. Oshmyansky shared his story of how he decided that drugs should be affordable, all while battling some of the same PBM issues that CSRO currently is working on in state capitols around the country.

The afternoon sessions began with legislators from Florida and Texas discussing how policy issues are considered and how providers can best interact with them to garner support. Staff from the American Medical Association (AMA) continued the conversation by highlighting efforts to address prior authorization at both the state and federal levels. The sessions concluded with a conversation between Dr. Madelaine Feldman and ERISA attorney Paul Holmes on the importance of educating employers about the negative impacts of payer policies, as well as a moderated discussion on biosimilars. 

More information on the content of the sessions is available here, and we hope to see you in 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee!

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