Focus on growing Greater Louisville’s healthcare industry.
By Sarah Davasher-Wisdom
As one of the area’s most vital industries, healthcare is a major focal point of advocacy efforts at Greater Louisville Inc., (GLI) the Metro Chamber of Commerce. In addition to providing world-class services and products, regional healthcare businesses provide thousands of jobs and account for billions of dollars in annual economic growth.
2017 proved to be a remarkable year for Greater Louisville’s business community, but this was especially the case for the healthcare industry. GLI successfully championed legislation allowing for medical review panels in Kentucky, a long-term goal of regional healthcare companies with the potential to drastically bring down costs associated with medical malpractice litigation.
Therefore, it is critical that the legislature support incentives for businesses encouraging healthy lifestyle choices.
This year, we are focusing on legislative priorities that will help grow Greater Louisville’s healthcare industry. The details of each of these priorities are listed below.
As the Commonwealth finalizes and implements changes to serving the Medicaid population, it is imperative that the costs to the state be balanced against the need for improved health of Kentuckians. A healthy workforce is an important economic development aspect but must be at a cost to the state that is sustainable.
As the state works on a waiver request to the federal Department of Health and Human Services to control the growing costs of Medicaid expansion, GLI will continue to monitor the proposals that will make a number of changes to Kentucky’s Medicaid program.
Recommendations like community service requirements and monthly premiums for select Kentucky populations will be reviewed as more specifics are released.
Overspending in Kentucky’s Medicaid system leaves fewer and fewer resources for important initiatives like education and economic development. Kentucky must continue moving forward with implementing Medicaid spending reforms without inf licting excessive harm on Medicaid recipients and healthcare providers.
Kentucky must enforce health information transparency for providers, employers and insurers. The Commonwealth should pass legislation to incentivize the use of evidence-based practices by providers that encourage effective, low-cost treatments and interventions.
To these ends, the state and the Greater Louisville region must invest in healthcare research, development and commercialization–aggressively pursuing all available federal funding.
Certificate of Need
GLI encourages the legislature to maintain the current system of Certificate of Need for new medical facilities in the Commonwealth. The current system takes the impacts and benefits of new medical facilities into account to provide healthcare more efficiently to Kentuckians.
Civil Justice Reform
GLI supports building on the Medical Liability Reform legislation passed in 2017 to limit the exposure of healthcare companies and professionals to frivolous lawsuits. Such legislation will help Louisville and Kentucky retain and attract healthcare professionals and healthcare businesses. GLI also supports other civil reforms including a constitutional amendment and legislative efforts to allow voters to consider caps on punitive damages.
A seamless licensure process will benefit nurses and their employers to provide health services on both sides of the river, in addition to addressing the nurse shortage within the region.
Confidential Peer Review
Kentucky is the only state to not allow for open and confidential peer review. GLI supports legislation that would increase protection for medical providers to effectively review their own performance, without fear of a lawsuit. To help improve health outcomes, GLI supports allowing open and frank communications through peer review.
Healthcare Talent and Workforce
To adequately serve a growing population, Kentucky must address the shortage of medical professionals and the entire healthcare workforce by creating and funding programs to build the medical workforce and by providing incentives that will retain and attract healthcare professionals and workers.
A Healthier Kentucky
A healthy workforce is important to a strong economy. Therefore, it is critical that the legislature support incentives for businesses encouraging healthy lifestyle choices. The state should also consider further measures to increase wellness, including increasing the sale age of tobacco products to 21, statewide smoke-free schools and workplace laws, an increase to the cigarette tax and the removal of smokers as a protected class.
Nurse Licensure Compact in Indiana
Kentucky is one of 26 states benefiting from the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). With many of the region’s healthcare companies operating across state lines, it is important for Greater Louisville to maintain and attract nursing talent.
Indiana should pass NLC legislation to authorize its registered nurses to maintain in-state licenses and practice in any member state of NLC, particularly Kentucky. A seamless licensure process will benefit nurses and their employers to provide health services on both sides of the river, in addition to addressing the nurse shortage within the region.
To read GLI’s full legislative agenda for 2018 and to learn more about their advocacy efforts, visit GLIadvocacy.com.
— Sarah Davasher-Wisdom is Chief Operating Officer at Greater Louisville Inc.