LRI Initiative Results in $1 Million Senate Appropriation for Lupus Education

Funding to Educate Healthcare Professionals in Recognizing and Diagnosing Lupus

NEW YORK, NY – June 14, 2012 – A federal spending bill for fiscal 2013 approved today by the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee provides $1 million to continue a signature federal lupus provider education program conceived by the Lupus Research Institute (LRI) in collaboration with the federal government. If enacted, this funding would bring the total allocated to this nationwide effort by the Department of Health and Human Services to $5.6 million.

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill allocates 2013 funding to continue the current federal lupus education initiative coordinated by the Office of Minority Health, Office of Women’s Health and the U.S. Surgeon General. The Lupus Initiative is designed to alleviate racial and health disparities by providing healthcare professionals, particularly those in underserved communities, with the appropriate education and training to diagnose and treat lupus promptly.

Members of the Senate and House appropriations committees will negotiate a final conference committee bill later in the fall to set the ultimate funding levels for 2013.

Report language accompanying the Senate bill emphasizes the critical need for improved lupus diagnosis and treatment: “The Committee recommendation includes $1,000,000 to continue the national health education program on lupus for healthcare providers, with the goal of improving diagnosis for those with lupus and reducing health disparities.  This program is intended to engage health care providers, educators, and schools of health professions in working together to improve lupus diagnosis and treatment through education.”

“The  Lupus Research Institute and its National Coalition of patients and families have walked the halls of Congress for years to draw national attention to lupus as a devastating disease that strikes primarily young women and particularly minority women,” noted CEO Margaret Dowd. “We thank the entire Appropriations Committee and in particular Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) the lead champion for this effort, as well as Labor-HHS Subcommittee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) for their unflagging support of lupus patients. This bill has tremendous implications because when healthcare professionals are trained to recognize lupus, treatment can begin sooner in the disease process, lowering the risk of serious complications. The attention paid to lupus among clinicians and the public also increases interest in researching new treatments by scientists throughout the world.”

Affecting more than 1.5 million Americans, lupus is a chronic, complex and prevalent autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune system creates antibodies that can attack any organ or tissue — the kidneys, brain, heart, lungs, blood, skin, and joints. Nine out of ten lupus sufferers are women, mostly young women between the ages of 15 to 44. Women of color are two to three times at greater risk than Caucasians. Lupus can take months and even years to be treated appropriately because its symptoms often mimic other diseases and conditions, and there is no one test for definite diagnosis. This Senate bill strongly addresses that problem by supporting training for healthcare professionals at every level on the front lines of care to recognize, diagnose and treat lupus.