Reduce barriers to care, improve practice of medicine in the Commonwealth.
By Cory Meadows
Despite the Kentucky General Assembly’s emphasis on politically charged topics such as the budget and pension reform, it is undeniable that healthcare will always remain a matter for conversation in Frankfort. The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA) is once again prepared to be a leader in that discussion and advocate for the practice of medicine in 2018.
KMA has been working for months with members and leadership to develop its list of priorities for the 2018 legislative session. The Association’s main objective regarding each of these issues is to reduce barriers to care and improve the practice of medicine in the Commonwealth.
Tort reform remains the most prominent issue for Kentucky physicians. KMA made tort reform central to its advocacy efforts during the 2017 legislative session. Senate Bill 4, legislation that established medical review panels in the Commonwealth, passed the General Assembly to become the first step in creating a more fair and consistent legal climate for healthcare providers.
However, much work remains to be done. The state’s legal liability system continues to place unlimited risk on providers, exacerbates our well-known provider shortage, weakens quality control mechanisms and drives up healthcare costs for the state and its citizens.
KMA, in collaboration with the Kentucky Hospital Association and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, looks forward to supporting legal reform initiatives in 2018 that are designed to promote more efficient healthcare and legal systems in addition to greater patient safety.
This is crucial to removing barriers to care. Physicians and practice staff spend an enormous amount of time, energy and resources performing nonclinical activities that are required by payers, e.g. prior authorization.
While some administrative requirements are expected, the overuse of these tasks can decrease practice efficiency, prevent access to timely care and increase costs for patients and physicians. KMA will actively seek out administrative hurdles and push for legislation that will effectively remove them as barriers to patient care.
Public health issues will continue to dominate healthcare discussions. Kentucky faces a number of public health challenges, including an opioid abuse epidemic and a high smoking rate. Policymakers rely on KMA as a trusted resource concerning these matters.
As a result, KMA once again stands ready to be a leading voice in promoting the well-being of all Kentuckians through public health advocacy and education. Membership-driven grassroots advocacy will be essential to achieving success. KMA will host its annual Physicians’ Day at the Capitol on Feb. 7, 2018, and physicians are encouraged to attend to engage their legislators and educate them about these and other issues that are important to physicians.
KMA will also be featured in two spots during the Kentucky broadcast of PBS NewsHour, beginning in January. The ads will focus on issues of legislative importance to the Association, which include smoking cessation and eliminating administrative barriers to health.
This year’s legislative session is a 60- day gathering of the Kentucky General Assembly that is scheduled to begin January 2 and conclude April 13. A number of impactful healthcare-related issues will be discussed, debated and voted on during that time. KMA will be there—as the voice for physicians—to advocate for policies that promote quality, accessible healthcare and advance the practice of medicine.
KMA Physicians’ Day at the Capitol
February 7, 2018
More information and registration for Physicians’ Day is available at kyma.org.
— Cory Meadows is director of advocacy at Kentucky Medical Association.