With the holidays right around the corner, I am making my last few visits throughout the state for 2019 and preparing for what promises to be an interesting session of the legislature. In just a few short months, I have had the privilege to meet with physicians and community leaders in Hyden, Hazard, Pikeville, Lexington, Louisville, Glasgow, Princeton, Morehead, Munfordville, Owingsville and Florence to discuss the various initiatives of the KMA and how important it is for us to have physician input and involvement. I have literally driven thousands of miles for the KMA since becoming President (1,000 last week alone) and I am closing out the year feeling energized about what is possible for the New Year.
The 2020 session of the Kentucky General Assembly will kick off on January 7th. KMA has been working for months with members and leadership to develop its list of Legislative Priorities. I am excited about the opportunity we have to impact the health of our patients and the practice of medicine through advocating for these issues:
Public Health: KMA has been very active in public health over the last few years, with an emphasis on key conditions impacting Kentuckians. During the 2020 session, KMA will seek the removal of prior authorization requirements for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and ask that payers be required to cover non-opioid pain treatment such as physical therapy, massage therapy and acupuncture as an alternative to opioids. Tobacco will also remain a focus, with support for an e-cigarette/vaping excise tax, legislation that would raise the legal sale of tobacco products to 21 years of age, and support for raising the level of funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs.
Public Safety: KMA will also seek to protect the patients of the Commonwealth from deceptive drug injury advertisements through a number of new regulations, as well as require that vision testing become part of the driver’s licensing renewal process in an effort to reduce automobile accidents.
Access to Care: If Congress fails to act on federal “surprise billing” legislation, the issue may return to the states for action. KMA has been very active on the state and federal level regarding this issue and will continue such efforts to avoid having a government-mandated rate set for out-of-network services. KMA will also advocate for legislation that would prohibit payers from enacting co-pay accumulator policies that do not count third-party financial assistance (such as co-pay cards) toward a patient’s out-of-pocket expenses, as well as support a cap on copays for insulin.
This is robust list of priorities, and we will need “all hands on deck” to see these items cross the finish line in April. It is imperative that KMA members remain involved in our advocacy efforts. Legislators are looking to physicians as the experts in the field of healthcare, and we need to be ready and willing to provide the testimony and input that will be needed.
While not every physician can be in Frankfort on a regular basis, there are ways to keep involved and amplify the voice of medicine in the session ahead. Communication is key and here are some tools to allow you to stay active in advocacy while keeping up with the demands of a busy practice.
KMA’s Legislative Text Alert Service: This service is designed to keep you up to date on key issues and alert you when we may need your voice to be heard by legislators. Just text “KMA” to 50457 to register.
KY Legislative Action Line: 1-800-372-7181 is the number we need for all physicians and those who support physicians to have in their contact list. While you may not be able to go to Frankfort, these calls matter and allow for the voice of medicine to be heard at times when constituents are key. Your two minutes of time will make a great difference.
Physicians’ Day at the Capitol: February 6, 2020 is the day all KMA physicians are invited to meet for the latest updates regarding legislative matters, hear from our advocacy experts, and let your voice be heard by those who represent you. We hope for a great showing this year, so join us on February 6th as we look to advance our legislative issues. Registration is available at https://2020kmaphysiciansdayatthecapitol.eventbrite.com.
AIMforBetterCare.com: This is more than a website, it is a platform for the KMA to collect grassroots information from physicians, their office staffs, and their patients on the administrative challenges that are faced when trying to provide and receive care. Just go to this site and share your issue so that we can immediately see your challenges, combine them with others across the Commonwealth, and begin to formulate our approach.
Legislative Bulletins: KMA provides weekly Legislative Bulletins to keep our members informed. These are put together by our expert advocacy team and yet another value for your membership.
I wish each and every one of you the happiest of holidays and hope that we are able to connect in the days, weeks and months ahead. Your service to the profession and the skill in which you deliver your art represents more than just mere diagnostic codes, they are a sacred trust of caring that helps to make our communities and state a better place in which to live.