A new look to the Kentucky House of Representatives offers new opportunities for legislation important to physicians in the 2017 session of the Kentucky General Assembly. In order to capitalize on those opportunities, the Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) has established a set of priorities that emphasize improved public health, increased patient safety and a fairer legal system for healthcare providers.
Tort Reform: KMA has long supported efforts to improve Kentucky’s medical liability climate. During the 2017 legislative session, meaningful and comprehensive tort reform will continue to be a top priority for the KMA. Other stakeholders, such as the Kentucky Hospital Association and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, through a group known as the Partnership for Commonsense Justice (PCJ), have also advocated for comprehensive tort reform in order to create a more fair and consistent climate for both business and medical providers. States that have become business friendly included as a main pillar to that label passage of tort reform.
Smoking Cessation: Kentucky still has one of the nation’s highest smoking rates and, as a result, the state spends $1.92 billion annually in smoking-related healthcare expenditures. KMA is committed to addressing this serious public health issue. Specifically, KMA will continue its successful smoking cessation campaign called Commit to Quit, started last year in order to encourage individuals to talk to their physicians about quitting smoking.
KMA also will support legislation designed to ensure comprehensive smoking cessation coverage for both the private insurance and Medicaid populations that is free of any barriers (e.g. pre-authorizations) to patient access. If adopted, the legislation would reduce tobacco use rates, remedy confusion among providers and patients regarding the specific components of covered tobacco cessation benefits, decrease costs to the healthcare system from tobacco-related illnesses and improve health outcomes for the state.
KMA urges Medicaid managed care organizations, and commercial insurers generally, to work with KMA and other healthcare advocacy groups to place greater emphasis on managing the care of our population rather than simply managing money.
Prescription Drug Abuse: KMA and the Kentucky Foundation for Medical Care have launched a new public health campaign targeting the prescription drug abuse problem in the Commonwealth. The Know Your Meds KY campaign encourages physicians and patients to work together through knowledge and education about prescription drugs. Information about the campaign can be found on the KMA web site at kyma.org/know-your-meds-ky.
Regulatory Reform: Access to care, which is the ultimate goal of any healthcare system, requires regulatory relief for physicians and all medical providers. The more administrative burdens imposed on physicians and patients, the less time there is for physicians to treat patients’ underlying conditions. Today’s healthcare system includes various layers of paperwork and documentation that adds little to the overall care of patients.
While it is desirable to measure quality, every insurer and government agency has a different definition of quality that involves different administrative requirements, leading to confusion. We should instead focus on making Kentuckians healthier by having systems that support smoking cessation and other health factors that could improve the overall health of our population. The current system simply leaves patients frustrated by imposing needless administrative work.
In 2016, KMA experienced one of its best legislative sessions in years. Four major priorities – issues ranging from maintenance of certification to fair contracting – were adopted by the General Assembly. KMA was able to meet these legislative objectives by maintaining a focus on issues important to physicians and the patients they serve.
-Cory Meadows is director of Advocacy and Legal Affairs at the Kentucky Medical Association.