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February 2024 KMA President’s Message: Thank You for Being an Advocate

Yesterday was one of the busiest and most important days of the year for our KMA: the annual Physicians’ Day at the Capitol (PDAC) was held in Frankfort. We were thrilled to have nearly 100 of our physician members in attendance. Your presence and dedication makes all the difference in our advocacy efforts, and I am deeply grateful for your advocacy, as well as your commitment to our patients and profession.

As we’ve discussed before, the KMA’s singular legislative priority for 2024 is the passage of prior authorization reform. We know that is one of the most important issues all of you face on a daily basis. While we are pleased that a bill has been introduced and assigned to committee (House Bill 317, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser and Rep. Robert Duvall, among others), it has not yet received a hearing. I am hopeful that our influence yesterday will give the bill the momentum it needs to move forward. As always, I’d encourage you to continue to stay informed with everything happening in the legislative session by reading the KMA’s weekly Legislative Alerts. Our staff does an excellent job of staying on top of all of the legislative activity which affects medicine. Also, I also encourage you to take a few minutes to contact your representatives and ask them to support House Bill 317.

I mentioned in my inauguration speech as KMA President that I would like to highlight the leadership of our members from time to time in my messages. With Physician’s Day so fresh on my mind, I thought it was only appropriate to draw attention to the leadership and advocacy work of Dr. Don Swikert.

Dr. Swikert has been part of the KMA’s Legislative Quick Action Committee (LQAC) since 2001, serving as Chair since 2012. In that time, he has lent his voice and expertise to numerous important issues, including testifying regularly before legislative committees, as well as meeting frequently with House and Senate leaders to educate them on KMA priorities. Dr. Swikert has helped KMA navigate the often choppy waters of annual legislative sessions, and has remained a firm advocate for medicine and our patients. He always uses a measured, rational approach to discuss complex problems, especially at a time when emotions are running high in the state house.

Dr. Swikert has served as a personal role model to me, and through his mentorship, he has helped me push past my boundaries and become a better leader. Here is an example of his leadership. Last year was my first AMA meeting, and due to some absences, I served as a temporary alternate for our delegation. I had no idea what to expect, but I had some degree of confidence, as I had been serving in leadership roles at the state level for several years. What I didn’t realize was that at the AMA House of Delegates, everyone is a leader for their state society or specialty society. I quickly felt overwhelmed and intimidated, and by the third day of the meeting, my imposter syndrome was raging. When the resolutions from the reference committee I attended came up, Dr. Don asked me to take his place as a voting delegate. When I expressed hesitation, he said “You were at the reference committee with me, and you know the issues as well as I do. If you don’t feel comfortable, that’s fine, but I know you can do it.” Good leaders know when to nudge their colleagues, and I thank Dr. Swikert for nudging me.

It was great to see so many of you yesterday. As we reflect on the impact of our advocacy efforts, let’s remember that our work is far from over. There are still challenges ahead, but I have no doubt that with our dedication and passion, we will continue to make a positive difference in the lives of our patients and communities.

Thank you again for your commitment to advocacy and for being shining examples of what it means to be a physician, and a part of the Kentucky Medical Association. It is truly an honor to stand alongside each of you as we work together to make medicine better for our patients.

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