New Bill Focuses Attention on Musculoskeletal Health, Conditions

A new bill introduced into the House seeks to focus national attention and funding on the issue of musculoskeletal diseases and conditions.

H.R. 6478 is also known as the Access to America’s Orthopaedic Services Act of 2008. It was introduced in July by Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-Calif.) and Rep.

Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas), both members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health.

A news release from Solis’ office said the legislation “would improve the awareness of musculoskeletal diseases and conditions among the public and health-care professionals and responds to gaps noted in the 2004 Bone Health and Osteoporosis: A Report of the Surgeon General. It also provides for a study aimed at reviewing the amount of educational and training funding available for physicians trained in orthopaedics.”

The statement from Solis’ office also said musculoskeletal diseases and conditions are “the leading cause of disability in the United States” with more than 30 percent of Americans requiring medical care as a result.

“The United States spends $849 billion annually in direct and indirect costs on bone and joint medical care,” the statement said. “In addition to building awareness, there is growing concern that there will not be enough physicians available to deliver care for musculoskeletal conditions.”

H.R. 6478 would accomplish the following:
• Provide reports to Congress to analyze the extent to which musculoskeletal research is being funded, the number of new investigators entering the musculoskeletal research field, and existing federal trauma care initiatives.
• Urge the Office of Minority Health to consider musculoskeletal diseases and conditions as an additional health priority.
• Advise the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to issue recommendations for a standard, cost-effective modality for measuring bone density.
• Require the Department of Health and Human Services to conduct public education campaigns on musculoskeletal health.
• Increase agency reporting requirements to improve the treatment and management of musculoskeletal disease across various populations and to reduce disease burden and injury among children and the elderly.
The bill is supported by the Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons as well as a dozen original co-sponsors from both parties.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Mobility Management.

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