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Courtney Receives Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Leadership Award

March 14, 2016
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) will receive the Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Leadership Award along with Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) for their joint leadership of the Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act of 2015. The award will be presented to Courtney during an evening ceremony as a part of the Arthritis Advocacy Summit being held this week in Washington, D.C.

“It is imperative that we support young physicians who want to specialize in underserved medical fields, especially those related to pediatric services,” said Courtney. “We know that there is interest among medical students to enter these fields, but the high cost of obtaining a medical degree often necessitates that they enter a more lucrative specialty. By providing an option for physicians to receive student loan repayments for practicing in an underserved field, my bill would incentivize medical students to enter these high-need areas. I am proud to be working with Rep. Collins, and groups like the Arthritis Foundation, to bring attention to the need for pediatric specialists in underserved fields. I am honored to be receiving the Arthritis Foundation Advocacy Leadership Award tonight.“

Sandie Preiss, Vice President for Advocacy & Access at  the Arthritis Foundation, said: "There is a real problem in this country for kids with arthritis. An estimated 300,000 kids have the disease yet there are fewer than 350 board certified pediatric rheumatologists. representative Courtney co introduced HR 1859, Ensuring Children's Access to Specialty Care Act of 2015, which will address this real problem by creating a student loan forgiveness program for physicians who agree to practice in underserved areas. We are very grateful for Representative Courtney and his leadership in helping people who have arthritis."

Courtney and Collins are lead sponsors of the Ensuring Children’s Access to Specialty Care Act of 2015 (HR 1859). This bill would add a number of pediatric specialties to the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) loan repayment program, including those physicians who specialize in pediatric arthritis. The NHSC incentivizes young physicians to practice in underserved, high need areas in return for two-years of medical school loan repayments. Some of the organizations that have pledged their support to the bill include the Arthritis Foundation, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, Children’s Hospital Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and Mental Health America, among others. The bill currently has 36 bipartisan cosponsors.