The Legislative Session Might Be Over, But Advocacy Never Sleeps

Published May 16, 2018

Like many of you I’m sure, I breathed a sigh of relief when the 2018 legislative session finally drew to a close in April.

The meetings were contentious, and the media coverage constant. We had an idea going into the session in January that things might get hairy, but I don’t think anyone could have predicted just how intense the conversation would become.

Which is why I’m both impressed and thankful that the KMA was able to secure the passage of three very important pieces of legislation in the midst of such turmoil.

These priorities included peer review protections (House Bill 4), credentialing reform (House Bill 69) and reimbursement for telehealth services (Senate Bill 112). These three bills will undoubtedly improve Kentucky’s overall healthcare climate and further protect both patients and providers. You can read more about them in KMA’s recently released 2018 Legislative Summary. Each law is scheduled to take effect on July 14. As a member, you are a part of this success!

But as any sports fan knows, sometimes the best offense is a great defense. KMA spent much of the 2018 session working to oppose several bills that posed threats to the public and the practice of medicine, including issues related to scope of practice, midwifery and mandated continuing medical education. The Association proved to be successful in those efforts. KMA also was able to bypass an effort to establish a physician provider tax as legislators searched for additional revenue in the final days of the session. What a detriment that would have been to all of us!

With these thoughts in mind, it would be foolish for us to rest on our laurels. This interim period is the ideal time to start working towards more success in 2019. As I write this, your lawmakers are back in their home districts. They are in your community right now! What an opportunity to reach out and set up a quick meeting. Introduce yourself and talk about your practice and your priorities. It only takes a few minutes, and could make a world of difference next January. Trust me when I say they want to hear from you!

I would also strongly encourage you to make a contribution to the Kentucky Physicians Political Action Committee (KPPAC). KPPAC pools funds to contribute to the campaigns of legislators who are friends of the practice of medicine, and we have the ability to make an even greater impact than we have previously. If we want to influence real change in Frankfort, we must unite to support those that are supportive of our causes. Contributing to KPPAC is easy. More information can be found here www.KPACC.org.

KMA’s AIM for Better Care initiative is also a great place to voice your concerns and impact healthcare across the Commonwealth. AIM is a long-term project that will seek to tackle administrative burdens, laws and regulations that are ultimately detrimental to the health of Kentuckians. Physicians are asked to submit feedback and identify issues that negatively impact the delivery of care surrounding smoking, drug abuse, obesity, diabetes and flu/pneumonia. Input can be sent at any time via email to administrativeburden@kyma.org.

Finally, I’d like to thank every KMA member who traveled to Frankfort and testified before a committee, provided background to a legislator, or simply made a call to the message line on behalf of physicians and patients. Our efforts certainly paid off, and I am hopeful that the KMA will continue celebrating legislative successes in the years to come.