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December 2022 President’s Message: Let’s Remove the Red Tape

December always feels like crunch time. We have the holidays, decorating, planning, gifting and get-togethers. Patients trying to get everything in since they’ve met their deductible before the end of the calendar year. Then there’s the elephant in the room: it’s officially “sick season”. It feels like we are busier than ever.

My schedule is full of patients experiencing viral illnesses like flu, RSV, and COVID-19. With so many appointments, I am even more aware of the crunch we’ve experienced in healthcare during this pandemic. The pharmacies are understaffed, the medications are in short supply, and to top it off, we have administrative burdens that get in the way of caring for our patients.

Like many of you, prior authorization tops my list of red tape hindering my work. In fact, during our recent KMA Member Survey, 61% of you cited prior authorization as the main administrative burden impacting your practice.

That’s why in October I testified on our KMA’s behalf in front of the Interim Joint Committee on Health, Welfare, and Family Services regarding eligibility criteria and requirements relating to prior authorization. During the 2023 session, our KMA will be pushing for prior authorization reforms within the state’s health plans, both in the state employee’s health plan and the state Medicaid program with a goal of creating a better, more streamlined system for our patients and our practices. Our Member Survey indicated that support for legislation to reform the prior authorization process and limiting the power of payers is the most important thing our KMA can do to make Kentucky a better place to practice medicine, and we want to make that a reality.

Unless they work in healthcare or have been impacted by prior authorization delays as a patient, most legislators don’t understand the burden these requirements place on providers. That’s why your voices and advocacy is so important. I strongly encourage each of you to save the date for KMA’s 2023 Physicians’ Day at the Capitol, to be held in Frankfort on Wednesday, February 22, 2023. More information, including registration, will be forthcoming.

In addition to prior authorization reforms, our KMA will also be focused on physician wellness, as well as scope of practice. To assist with the latter, our KMA is launching a new campaign called “KY Physicians Care.” The effort seeks to educate the public and our elected officials about the importance of a physician-led, team-based care model in which physicians and other health professionals work collaboratively, within their scope of experience and education, to ensure patients are treated safely and effectively. Studies have shown time and time again that patients prefer to have a physician, the most educated and trained health care professionals, leading their care team. Last week I penned an op-ed in the Courier-Journal regarding this issue, and I look forward to continuing to advocate on scope of practice throughout the 2023 legislative session and through the KY Physicians Care campaign.

The pandemic has strained us all in ways that we cannot capture, and the struggles we face can feel overwhelming at times. I truly believe we can find the solutions to our struggles together.  One of the ways we have found those solutions lies in our community within our KMA. I want to commend and thank you for your membership in our KMA. Whether you are serving on our Board of Trustees, one of our Commissions, or simply reading our emails during a break in your schedule, YOU are an important member of this organization. Our KMA exists to serve you and improve your practice and the health of your patients. Your membership is what allows us to better advocate, educate, and communicate on your behalf.

I hope during this holiday season you have a patient interaction or an experience that reminds you of the joy of medicine.  May you enjoy a restful, healthy holiday season with your family and friends. As your President, I look forward to continuing to work for you in the New Year and improve the practice of medicine for our Commonwealth.

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