Omnibus Appropriations Bill released by the U.S. Congress last night provides $2 million to further the Lupus Initiative, the lupus provider education program conceived by the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) in collaboration with the federal government. Expected to pass this week, the appropriation will bring total support to $6.6 million for the LRI’s signature advocacy program initiated to meet the urgent need for better lupus care, particularly among underserved populations.
The new bill allocates funding to the Department of Health and Human Services to integrate the Lupus Initiative into the national healthcare system. Managed by the American College of Rheumatology, the Lupus Initiative was officially launched in 2013 by the Office of Minority Health, Office of Women’s Health and the U.S. Surgeon General to improve diagnosis and reduce health disparities. As described in the report language accompanying the bill, the funding is “intended to engage healthcare professionals, educators, and schools of health professions in working together to improve lupus diagnosis and treatment through education.”
“Lupus remains dangerously undiagnosed, underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed, especially in our minority communities,” noted LRI CEO Margaret Dowd. “Our LRI patient advocates across America thank Congress for appropriating funds to train healthcare professionals, especially those on the front-lines, to spot this complex autoimmune disease early so patients can get appropriate care promptly.”
Protecting Research in Lupus and Other Devastating Diseases
The bill also provides $29.9 billion to fund biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
“Congress listened to the LRI and the many other organizations seeking to support our national biomedical research investment. We appreciate that in a very tight budgetary environment, Congress responded to protect the science and advance lupus research,” noted Ms. Dowd. “Stopping the deep cuts in NIH funding begins to address the amounts that have been lost to the budget sequestration process. The renewed commitment to scientific discovery is hopeful for our lupus patient advocates who worked hard to voice that need to their federal representatives. The LRI is proud to have made a difference.”
A dangerous autoimmune disease, lupus affects over 1.5-million Americans, primarily young women in their childbearing years. Minority populations are especially at risk. In lupus, the immune system, which is designed to protect against infection, creates antibodies that attack the body’s own tissues and organs. Symptoms include intense fatigue, joint pains, thinking and memory problems, and skin rashes.
About the Lupus Research Institute
The Lupus Research Institute (LRI), the world’s leading private supporter of innovative research in lupus, pioneers discovery and champions the scientific creativity that is bringing new solutions to this complex and dangerous autoimmune disease. The LRI Coalition of patient advocacy organizations leads nationwide outreach, service and support to alleviate patient suffering while advancing the cure.
About the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation
A member of the LRI Coalition, the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation is the country’s preeminent organization delivering direct patient services, public education and novel research at a national level. Founded more than 40 years ago in New York City by lupus patients and their families as the first nonprofit to serve the lupus community, it remains the cornerstone of comprehensive care in all five boroughs in the continuous battle for a Life Without Lupus.