As National COPD Awareness Month winds down, an editorial in the online publication The Hill argues for the urgent need for increased funding for COPD research. Authored by respiratory therapists J. Brady Scott, Ellen Becker, and Shawna Strickland, three highly respected leaders of the respiratory care profession, the editorial challenges Congress to step up and give chronic obstructive pulmonary disease the research funding that it so desperately needs.
“This plan is designed to improve awareness, diagnosis, treatment, and research efforts pertaining to this largely preventable disease. Organizations like the COPD Foundation, American Lung Association, American College of Chest Physicians, American Association for Respiratory Care, U.S COPD Coalition, and many others work tirelessly to improve the lives of the millions of people that struggle with COPD and to one day find a cure”, notes the editorial. “These efforts, however, fall short.”
The article addresses the high cost of COPD in terms of dollars spent, productivity lost, and quality of life lost by those who suffer from the disease. It also laments the inexplicable disparity between reimbursement rates for cardiac rehabilitation and pulmonary rehabilitation. “Alarmingly, pulmonary rehabilitation, used to provide exercise, education, and support for patients with COPD, is reimbursed at half the rate of cardiac rehabilitation.”
The most disturbing fact raised in the editorial is the woeful lack of funding for COPD research. While COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, it ranks 165th in research funding. “It doesn’t make sense that research for the fourth-leading cause of death and fourth leading cause of disability in the U.S., ranks so low in funding. Congress needs to do the right thing and change this discrepancy given that COPD can be largely prevented, diagnosed earlier and treated more effectively.”
The US COPD Coalition joins the authors of the editorial, along with our many partner organizations (including those listed above), in urging individuals to reach out to their members of Congress and demand more funding for COPD research.