Editor Note: Due to the COVID-19 virus, the National Psoriasis Foundation will be hosting Capitol Hill Day virtually, with members of the psoriatic disease community sharing their experiences accessing care during the pandemic and urging legislators to consider those living with a chronic disease as they address the impact of the virus.
The National Psoriasis Foundation advocacy team works tirelessly all year to fight for the priorities that matter most to those living with psoriatic disease. From meeting with local policymakers to conducting write-in campaigns, countless volunteers, patients, loved ones, medical professionals and researchers come together, physically or virtually, for the singular goal to improve policy that impacts care and treatment options.
A big highlight of our year is the annual Capitol Hill Day, where representatives from our patient, medical and research constituencies meet with lawmakers to gain cosponsors for legislation related to clinical care, discuss the importance of increased research funding and build allies on the Hill.
Wilson Liao, M.D., an associate professor of dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco and the chair of NPF’s Scientific Advisory Committee, has been a staple of our annual fly-in as a champion for the medical community. In the following Q&A, he shares some thoughts on why it’s important for medical professionals and researchers to get involved in advocacy, and some of his personal highlights over the years.
Q: What is your history with NPF’s annual fly-in?
Liao: For the past several years I have had the pleasure of participating in NPF’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and at the National Institutes of Health. [Editor’s note: NPF invites experts like Liao to visit the NIH while in Washington, D.C., for Capitol Hill Day.]
Q: Do you have a specific memory or accomplishment from the past that you are particularly proud of?
Liao: I very much enjoy meeting the psoriatic patients who are so passionate about advocacy and education. Hearing their stories is incredible. I like how we form mini-teams of patients, physicians, and NPF staff to speak with legislators, which gives a sense that everyone is committed to working towards the same goal.
Q: What is your role for the upcoming Capitol Hill Day and what objective or goal would you like to accomplish?
Liao: I would like to educate Congress that psoriatic disease is a tremendous burden, and that we need better access to treatments and more funding for research.
Q: Why is it important to have a medical professional presence at the event?
Liao: Although I believe patients provide the most important perspective, I think medical professionals can speak to the issues surrounding health care delivery and gaps in research.
Q: How can other medical professionals get involved with NPF advocacy?
Liao: Medical professionals can make a huge difference by volunteering their time for both federal and state level events. We’re on the front lines, and removing some legislative barriers and securing research funding will greatly help how we treat those living with psoriatic disease.