Archive for Advocacy

Discussion with Decisionmakers: Gil Isbell

Discussion with Decisionmakers: Gil Isbell

Rep. Isbell (R–Gadsden) is a member of the Alabama House of Representatives, serving the 28th district covering Etowah County. Born and raised in Etowah County, Rep. Isbell is supported by ALAPAC and is running for re-election to represent District 28. He works at Isbell Dental and served as President of Gadsden Kiwanis Club.

What first prompted you to consider running for office?

I wanted to give back to my community, county and state.  In order to make a difference, you must get involved.

How does your background help serve you in the Legislature?

I have a diverse background in business from Airport Consulting, Real Estate, Retail, Recycling and more.  Furthermore, I lived outside the state for 25 years and learned there are all types of people that make up our great nation.

What are some of your legislative priorities this term?

-Help find a suitable industrial occupant for the Goodyear facility.

-Help develop the Megasite and find manufacture(s) to locate at the site.

-Help make the GSCC Advanced Manufacturing and Workforce Development Center a reality.  It will be a regional facility with dual enrollment, supported by all 3 school systems and will help support present and future training for many career tech jobs.

-Make the Southside Bridge the top infrastructure project and help secure funding. 

-Help obtain a 3rd lane for Rainbow Drive/Hway 411 from Hway 77 to Lumley Road in Rainbow City.

-Help strengthen education and get more qualified teachers in place.

-Work with State leaders to further address Mental Health issues.

-Work on Parental Rights issues.

-Work on protecting individuals regarding Guardianship and Conservatorship.

-Work on reducing flagrant lawsuits.

-Give the Citizens the opportunity to vote for a lottery.  Put the vote in the hands of the people.


What are some health-related issues important to your district and your constituents?

I am working with individuals and the Alabama State Lab to further new born testing.  Also, I want to work on mental health issues. 

What do you think people understand the least about our health care system?

I deal with insurance on a daily basis in my job at a dental office.  Most people do not understand insurance coverage or what procedures are covered.  Also, many people do not understand they need to see doctors on a routine basis.

If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

Develop a more consistent way to communicate with the public.  I know the industry does a good job of educating the public, but I think it could be better.

How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help you address Alabama’s health challenges?

As a legislator, we have to become experts in many fields (which is impossible).  I would like for the Medical Association to continue to present and educate the legislature on issues that the medical association identifies as important to the citizens of our state.

What is the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?

Thank them for what you do.  It is harder and harder to take care of patients because of the sheer numbers of patients that must be seen to make ends meet.  Again, thank them for what they do.

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Breaking Down the New Telehealth Law

Breaking Down the New Telehealth Law

Questions and answers to the new Telehealth Law that was sponsored by Sen. Dan Roberts and carried by Rep. Paul Lee in the House – ACT 2002 – 302.

What is its purpose?

The stated legislative intent of the law is to expand access to healthcare through the use of electronic devices and technology. It provides regulation for physician use of telehealth, and also repeals laws providing for a special license for out-of-state physicians to practice through telehealth in Alabama. The new Act requires a full and active Alabama medical license to provide telehealth services to Alabama patients. It does retain the exception for irregular or infrequent telehealth medical services (less than 10 days in 1 year or less than 10 patients in one year)

Does the law also govern telemedicine, and is there a difference in telehealth and telemedicine?

The law defines both telehealth and telemedicine. Telehealth is more of an umbrella term, encompassing the use of electronic and telecommunication technology to support medical care. Telemedicine is defined as the provision of medical services by a physician to a patient when they are not at the same site, using electronic technology. Because telehealth encompasses telemedicine, the two may be used interchangeably, but for purposes of the Act, telemedicine is specific to an electronic communication or encounter between physician and patient.

Does the new law provide a different duty of care?

The law provides that physicians providing telehealth medical services owe the same duty of care to patients as they would providing care in an in-person visit. A physician must establish a diagnosis, disclose that diagnosis and provide a visit summary after providing care by telehealth medical services if he or she would be required to provide those things after an in-person visit. The location of care provided by telehealth medical services is designated as the site where the patient is within the state.

Must a physician establish a relationship with a patient in-person before providing telehealth medical services?

A physician does not have to establish a physician-patient relationship in person prior to providing telehealth medical services, but a physician cannot solicit patients by or for telehealth medical services. Either the patient must initiate the relationship or the patient must be referred by a physician with whom he or she already has an established relationship. A physician is also required to obtain consent from a patient to use telehealth medical services, including the specific mode of communication to be used, prior to the provision of those services. That consent must be documented in the patient’s record. Also prior to delivering telehealth services, a physician must verify the patient’s identity, the patient’s location by city and state, and his or her own credentials to the patient.

Is there a limit on the number of times a patient can be seen by telehealth?

The law does not limit the number of telehealth visits for patients. However, if a physician or someone in his or her practice group has seen the same patient for the same condition using telehealth more than four times in one year without resolution of the problem, then the physician must see the patient in-person or refer the patient to another physician for an in-person visit within one year. The in-person visit requirement can be satisfied using telehealth services as long as there is at least one licensed physician or licensed nurse with the patient at the patient’s site to provide assistance if needed.

Are there any exceptions to the in-person visit requirement after four telehealth encounters?

The in-person visit requirement after four telehealth encounters does not apply if the physician providing the telehealth services is in active consultation with a physician providing in-person care. It further does not apply to the provision of mental health services as defined under Alabama law. The Board of Medical Examiners has the authority to provide further exemptions by Rule.

Is prescribing through telehealth allowed?

A prescriber may prescribe legend drugs, medical supplies or controlled substances through telehealth, if he or she is authorized by law to prescribe them otherwise, as long as there is an established legitimate medical purpose. For prescribing controlled substances by telehealth, a prescriber must also have seen the patient in-person once in the 12-months prior, have established the legitimate medical purpose in the 12-months prior, and have used “real time” technology for the telehealth encounter with the patient when issuing the prescription. The law contains an exemption to these requirements if the prescriber is prescribing a controlled substance to treat a medical emergency, to be defined by the Board of Medical Examiners.

How does this law affect non-physicians who provide telehealth medical services?

This law does not prohibit non-physician health professionals from providing telehealth services as long as those services fall within their particular scope of practice.

Does the law require anything about records or documentation?

Any physician providing telehealth medical services must keep accurate records in accordance with the Rules of the Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission. Physicians must also be able to access those records and provide the Board of Medical Examiners and Medical Licensure Commission access to them upon request. The law further requires physicians providing telehealth medical services to take reasonable cautions to protect the privacy of communications with patients in accordance with state and federal laws, including HIPAA.

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Discussion with House Candidate Dr. David Cole

Dr. David Cole – a member of the Medical Association and a candidate supported by the Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) – is running for Alabama House District 10 in the Huntsville/Madison area. HD 10 is an open seat as the incumbent is retiring. He is running unopposed in the republican primary and will face a democrat candidate in the November General Election. Dr. Cole is a military trained medical professional, with senior executive management experience in Occupational and Aerospace medicine. Cole earned his M.D. from the University of Arkansas and completed his surgical internship in general surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Cole is a highly decorated military veteran, with a history of service in several overseas missions.  He held the position of Chief Medical Officer at Fox Army Health Center on Redstone Arsenal for four years before taking the position of Medical Director for Huntsville Hospital’s Occupational Health Group.

What first prompted you to consider running for office?

My adult life has been in service to the country through the military and as a physician. After doing that for 22 years, I thought that I had done my bit, but I think one of the things about being a physician and serving in the military is that we are unique and geared to service and that service mentality is engrained in our DNA.  When I saw that Rep. Mike Ball was retiring and looked at some of the bills in the legislature and found out there is no physician in the house I decided to run for the 10th district (after talking to my wife).

How will your background help serve you in the Legislature?

It comes from 2 perspectives – in the military there is a lot of collaborative work.  You can’t get something done by yourself and so you have to learn to run your ideas by others and get them to agree – and if they don’t agree – you talk out your differences.  Medicine is the same way. Medicine is an art as well as a science.  Not everybody does things the same way, but the desired end result is the same.  As long as you have a servant mentality you will be in a good place to help your constituents. 

If elected you will be the only physician in the House, what impact do you think that will have?

One of the things I want to do is to be a sounding board for legislators who have health care related ideas.  Health care is a broad topic. Being a physician is unique in health care because it incorporates a lot of different modalities and we have to have a holistic approach.  Also, as a physician I will be able to give my professional opinion on major health care issues to my colleagues.

 What are some of your legislative priorities if you are elected to office?

My top legislative priority is parents’ choice for school.  I believe that parents have a right to decide things for their children.  I also want to protect small business and state farmers.  Also, improving and adding roads and infrastructure in my district.  The Huntsville and Madison area is growing leaps and bounds.

What are some health-related issues important to your district?

We have a robust healthcare system in N. Alabama and the Huntsville area.  I will say that it’s probably the largest after Birmingham.  I’m very proud that there is a family practice and internal medicine residency in Huntsville.  I would like to see more training programs for residencies in Huntsville.  I think it can’t be stressed enough how proud I am of the health care professionals that endured through this pandemic in the face of so much adversity.  Health care professionals in Alabama are the unsung heroes.  I want to make sure that the primary care specialties are beefed up.  As far as state wide, I think we need to get a preventive medicine program at UAB.  I do know the Medical Association’s supported Telehealth legislation is also a good bill.  Technology is evolving but, physicians still need to lay eyes on patients.  In person visits are integral to health care.

What do you think people understand the least about our health care system?

Insurance. Is this certain thing covered, or not covered; is this a co-pay, or not a co-pay.  Sometimes patients do not know if something is covered when they are receiving a treatment.  Also, some patients’ expectations are based on a 1950s model.  Patients are sometimes confused by what the 21st century healthcare model looks like.

If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

I see – and most physicians would agree – that some areas in the state lack access to health care.  I think investing in rural health care is important for the future of Alabama.  Area health care educational centers are becoming a big thing and other states are doing that. We should take a look at that with the help from congress and our federal government partners.

How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help you address Alabama’s health challenges?

I think it is very unique that our specialty society’s have a wide depth of knowledge and work well together with the Medical Association. As a physician it helps to be armed with all the information.  Also, I would really like to meet all the members and get more input from them.

What is the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?

I need your support, financially and at the voting booth.  Health care is very tenuous in our state.  As a physician and a member of the house I want to be the voice for them and for medicine in the Alabama Legislature.  The November election will be tough and I will need all the support I can get.

To learn more about Dr. Cole’s campaign, please click here.

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2022 Legislative Session

2022 Legislative Session

Scope of Practice Expansion

  • Scope Expansion of Podiatry: This bill (SB 101) would expand the scope of the practice of podiatry to include treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle. This bill has passed Senate Healthcare Committee and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.
  • Scope Expansion of Optometry: This bill (SB120) would provide further for the scope of practice of optometry and for the exclusive authority of the board to regulate the practice. The bill has passed the Senate and is assigned to House Health Committee.
  • Scope Expansion of Nurse Anesthetist: This bill (HB 268) would specify that a CRNA practices in coordination with a licensed physician or a podiatrist. This bill has passed the Alabama House of Representatives and the Senate and is in conference between the 2 chambers.
  • Pharmacy Prescribing Bill: This bill (HB 402 / SB 307) would authorize a pharmacist to prescribe vaccines and immunizations; and to require pharmacists administering vaccines or immunizations to children under nine years of age, to also recommend annual well-child visits with a pediatrician. This bill was carried over in the House Health Committee, but passed Senate Healthcare Committee.

Lawsuits and Liability

  • Private Right of Action: This bill (HB 16) would provide a private right of action against an employer for any adverse reaction, injury, temporary or permanent disability, or death of an employee arising from an employer mandate that the employee receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Texas Style Abortion Bill: This bill (HB 23) would prohibit a physician from performing an abortion if a fetal heart beat has been detected or if no test for a fetal heartbeat has been performed, except in circumstances where a medical emergency exists. This bill would provide a private cause of action for enforcement of this act by any person who performs or induces an abortion or who knowingly engages in conduct that aids or abets the performance or inducement of an abortion, including paying for or reimbursing costs of an abortion. This bill would provide injunctive relief and provide damages in an amount of not less than $10,000 for each abortion performed or induced and attorneys’ fees
  • Private Right of Action: This bill (HB 29) would provide a private right of action against an employer for any adverse reaction, injury, temporary or permanent disability, or death of an employee arising from an employer mandate that the employee receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  This bill would also prohibit this state from recognizing certain federal mandates.
  • Alabama Health Freedom Act: This bill (HB 31) creates the “Alabama Health Freedom Act” that prohibits discrimination based on vaccine status by employers, places public accommodation and occupational licensing boards.
  • Employee Vaccine Mandate: This Bill (HB 32) is duplicative of at least part of SB 9, passed in the 2nd 2021 Special Session.  It prevents an employer from compelling an employee to receive a COVID vaccine if that employee objects “for any reason of personal conscience, based on religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
  • Transgender Procedures: This bill (SB 5) would prohibit the performance of a medical procedure or the prescription or issuance of medication, upon or to a minor child, that is intended to alter the appearance of the minor child’s gender or delay puberty, with certain exceptions. This bill would provide for the disclosure of certain information concerning students to 16 parents by schools. This bill would also establish criminal penalties for violations. This bill has passed the Senate and awaits a vote in the House.

Public Health

  • Practice of Midwifery: This bill (HB 164 / SB 328) would remove vaginal birth after a cesarean as a procedure that is a prohibited practice outside the scope of licensed midwifery. This bill was reassigned to the House Boards, Agencies, and Commissions Committee and the Senate version is in Senate Healthcare Committee.
  • Student Masking Requirement: This bill (HB 18) would enable a parent or guardian of a student at a public K-12 school to opt out of any requirement that the student must wear a face covering at the school, at a school function, on school bus, or at school bus stop.
  • Parent Consent on Vaccines: This bill (HB 19) would require consent of a parent or legal guardian for any minor to receive a vaccination.   
  • My Child My Choice Vaccination Act: This bill (HB 30) creates the “My Child My Choice Vaccination Act” and amends Ala. Code Section 16-30-3, expanding the religious exemption from childhood vaccines required for school attendance to a broader exception that is applicable in all circumstances.
  • Abolishment of the Certificate of Need Program: This bill (HB 130) would repeal the certificate of need program and abolish the Certificate of Need Review Board, the State Health Planning and Development Agency, the Statewide Health Coordinating Council, and the Health Care Information and Data Advisory Council, which all exist to operate the certificate of need program and collect data to support the operation of the certificate of need program.
  • Prior Authorizations: This bill (SB 27) would require a health insurer to communicate to a physician or other health care professional with authority to prescribe drugs, within three business days of receiving a request for insurance coverage of a prescription drug benefit, that the request is approved, denied, or requires supplemental documentation. This bill would also require a health insurer to communicate to a physician or other health care professional with authority to prescribe drugs, regarding the approval or denial of the request, within three business days of receiving sufficient supplemental documentation.
  • Maternal and Infant Healthcare: This bill (SB 180) would establish the Maternal and Infant Health Board to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates and improve the health and health outcomes of pregnant women, newborns, infants, and mothers of newborns and infants in the Black Belt region of Alabama. This bill would provide for membership and duties of the board. This bill would provide for community health clinics that include birthing centers in certain counties, provide for a home visitation program to provide prenatal and perinatal care to mothers and infants in underserved areas, provide for telehealth services, and provide for greater utilization of advance practice nurses in these settings. This bill would also require the board to award grants and tuition reimbursement to health care professionals providing maternal and infant health care services.
  • Medicaid Expansion: The bill (HB 183) would expand the state Medicaid program and provide assistance to all persons for whom matching funds are available to the state under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
  • Extension of Postpartum Coverage Under Medicaid: Companion bills ( SB 284 & HB 360) would extend the period during which a pregnant woman who is eligible to receive medical assistance under Medicaid may continue to receive Medicaid assistance from 60 days to one year after giving birth
  • State Health Officer: This bill (SB 255) will require certain emergency rules, orders, or directives issued by the State Health Officer be approved by the Governor and a copy filed with the Secretary of State before the emergency rule, order, or other directive has the full force and effect of law; and to make non-substantive, technical revisions to update the existing code language to current style.
  • Every Mothers Act: This bill (HB 401) would support certain services for women before and after childbirth; to require a physician, prior to the performance of an abortion, to confirm that a woman upon whom an abortion is to be performed has received a free resource access assistance offer; and to provide for the provision and contents of the offer.
  • Telehealth: Companion bills (SB 272 & HB 423) officially recognizes telehealth as an approved means for the practice of medicine in Alabama. The Senate bill has passed the Senate Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development and awaits a vote in the Senate.

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2022 Advocacy Agenda

2022 Advocacy Agenda

As the professional association for some 7,000 physicians of all specialties in Alabama, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama exists to serve, lead, and unite physicians in promoting the highest quality of healthcare for the people of Alabama through advocacy, information, and education.

The Medical Association of Alabama is proud to advocate on behalf of physicians and their patients and, despite the challenges to care delivery and daily life brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, is committed to moving medicine forward in 2022.

General Policies Supported

The Medical Association supports the physician-led health team model and maintaining the highest standards for medical care delivery across all specialties of medicine. The Association supports reforming the “certificate of need” process to increase physician ownership of equipment and facilities and expand access to quality, affordable care. The Association supports continued physician compounding and dispensing of drugs in physician offices. The Association supports prohibiting deceptive health care advertising and requiring health professionals identify their license to patients.

The Association supports physician autonomy in patient care and medical practice decisions as well as fair reimbursement for services. The Association also supports reducing the administrative tasks required of physicians by insurers which increase annual health spending and negatively impact patient health. Specifically, the Association supports reforming prior authorization processes and step therapy protocols and ending non-medical switching and co-pay accumulator programs.

Further, the Association supports increasing health insurance options for Alabamians, including expanding Medicaid. The Association supports increasing access to quality mental health care and continued state funding for the Maternal Mortality Review Committee and the Infant Mortality Review Committee. Recognizing the long-term effects of social determinants of health on individuals, families and ultimately communities, the Association supports comprehensive solutions to addressing these challenges, with emphasis on pipeline programs, tax credits and loan forgiveness proposals benefitting rural and underserved areas.

Finally, by ensuring medical liability environment stability and pursuing further civil justice reforms, the Association believes Alabama can continue to attract highly-qualified physicians.

Specific Policies Supported

For 2022 , the Association specifically supports:

  • Extending Medicaid coverage for qualifying mothers to 12 months postpartum as recommended by the Maternal Mortality Review Committee
  • Providing access to state-managed personal protective equipment reserves for medical practices in times of critical need and shortage
  • Same standards and reimbursements for telehealth as for face-to-face visits, and expanding broadband initiatives to facilitate increased use of telemedicine
  • The ability of medical practices to set patient practice policies
  • Increasing physician representation on state healthcare boards

General Policies Opposed

The Medical Association opposes any scope of practice expansion for non-physicians that would fracture the physician-led health team model, lower quality of care and/or increase costs for patients. The Association also opposes any interference with the physician-patient relationship and attempts to reduce a physician’s autonomy in patient care or medical practice decisions.

The Association opposes legislation or other initiatives that could increase lawsuit opportunities against physicians, including the establishment of statutory standards of care or any statutory dictums for medical care delivery. The Association also opposes any state-level increase of requirements for Maintenance of Certification. Finally, the Medical Association opposes tax increases disproportionately affecting physicians.

Specific Policies Opposed

For 2022, the Association specifically opposes:

  • New lawsuit opportunities against physician employers and medical practices over employment policies
  • Efforts to reduce and/or politicize physician involvement in health regulatory affairs
  • Expanding Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) access for law enforcement
  • Statutory requirements for mandatory Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) checks
  • Changes to workers’ compensation laws negatively affecting treatment of injured workers and medical practices

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Discussions with Decisionmakers: Sen. Sam Givhan

Discussions with Decisionmakers: Sen. Sam Givhan

What first prompted you to consider running for office?

Now going through one term I see that the freshmen class is making a difference.  We have a special bond and it makes the work more enjoyable.  I try to focus on legislation that avoids us from having unintended consequences. 

How does your background help serve you on the Health Committee and also the Legislature?

I have a lot of physicians in my district.  I also think my background in legal knowledge has helped.

What are some of your legislative priorities this term?

Several counties need more additional circuit judges.

What are some health-related issues important to your district and your constituents?

My district and Huntsville are one of the medical centers for the state of Alabama.  The availability of medical staff is important.  It’s also important to have incentives for physicians to go to rural Alabama.

What do you think people understand the least about our health care system?


If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

More physicians and a medical school in Huntsville.

How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help you address Alabama’s health challenges?

Doing what you all do and reaching out to us in a logical non-emotional manner.

What is the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?

I am appreciative of the support I have received from so many of them via phone or contact by email. They are very personalized and informative.

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April Weaver Wins the Special General Election for Senate District 14

Congratulations Sen. April Weaver!

Sen. April Weaver with Dr. John Meigs

Republican Candidate, April Weaver, won the special general election against Democratic candidate, Virginia Applebaum, for Senate District 14 seat on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. The seat was previously held by Cam Ward (R) and covers Bibb, Chilton and Shelby counties.

According the certified election results published by the Secretary of State, April Weaver received 6,234 of the 7,768 votes, 80.3%.

Sen. Weaver Being Sworn In

As the political action committee representing physicians across the state, Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) was proud to support April Weaver in this special election. At a time when healthcare policy is so polarized, electing candidates who understand these issues and value physician input is a top priority. April Weaver, having previously served as the Chair of Alabama House Health Committee and a Regional Director with HHS, is that type of candidate.

“Supporting April Weaver for Senate District 14 was an easy decision,” said ALAPAC Board Chairman David Herrick, M.D. “From her previous roles in both the Alabama House and HHS, Weaver has consistently been a leader in healthcare industry and an advocate of policies that move medicine forward. The overwhelming outreach and support from physicians in her area, as well as statewide, is a testament to the positive impact Weaver has made both personally and professionally.”

Thank you to everyone that voted!

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Discussions with Decisionmakers: Sen. Jack Williams

Discussions with Decisionmakers


Senator Williams was born in Mobile County and is a passionate farmer. Senator Williams was elected to the Alabama Senate in 2018 after serving one term in the Alabama House of Representatives. He is a member of the Senate Healthcare Committee. Senator Williams represents Alabama’s 34th District covering Mobile County.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself – Primary occupation? Interests? Hobbies?

I’m a farmer by trade, and I went into the nursery business. My son also works in the nursery business.

What first prompted you to consider running office?

Mostly because of the way things were being run in our state, plus people asked me. I thought, hey, why not?

How does your background help serve you on the Health Committee and also the Legislature?

Building a business from the ground up and taking on numerous tasks. My unique perspective of living in a rural area allows me to relate to more.

What are some health-related issues important to your district and your constituents?

Getting more doctors out into rural areas. We are also against scope creep.

What can be done to alleviate the unnecessary and growing administrative and regulatory burdens and laws being placed on the medical community by insurers and government payers like Medicare and Medicaid?

We have to see significant money come into our rural hospitals. We are losing rural hospitals at an alarming rate and that needs to change quickly.

What do you think people understand the least about our health care system?

They don’t always understand quite how much the medical community has given up. People are sacrificing quite a bit to keep our state alive and healthy. They deserve our thanks.

If you could change anything about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

I want to help doctors who have to travel far to reach patients to be able to get to those patients.

Do you have a position on the expansion of Medicaid?

I’m all for it.

How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help you address Alabama’s health challenges?

Please come talk to me. With their help, I can help fight issues they care about.

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Not a “Rock Throwing” Committee; Pandemic Response Task Force Holds First Meeting

On Thursday, July 1, the first meeting of a legislatively-created task force to examine the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was held in Montgomery.  During the 2021 Legislative Session, amidst a flurry of bills being introduced related to the pandemic (like Sen. McClendon’s bill to abolish the position of State Health Officer and abolish the State Committee of Public Health), the Medical Association asked state lawmakers to “press pause” on any such bills until an out-of-session, full and complete analysis of pandemic response could be completed.  That request was largely honored, and a task force was created to do just that. 

At the task force’s inaugural meeting, Gov. Kay Ivey, Senate President Pro Tem Greg Reed and House Speaker Mac McCutcheon addressed members of the task force.  All three agreed the past year created unprecedented challenges for Alabamians and that while there may have been and in some instances may continue to be disagreement among some regarding how the state handled certain things, the desire of the Governor, Sen. Reed and Speaker McCutcheon was for the task force to identify positive steps the state can take for the future.  Sen. Reed reminded the group there wasn’t a “manual” for how to manage a global pandemic within Alabama but that he wanted their help in moving the state forward.  

“We aren’t interested in rock throwing here,” Sen. Reed said.  “We want this group to identify how Alabama can be better prepared for the next pandemic.”

Speaker McCutheon echoed his words, adding COVID-19 had continued to change so rapidly that it made responding effectively difficult at times. He thanked State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris and the Governor for their work and leadership during the pandemic.  Speaker McCutcheon said he wanted to be sure the task force had “facts to promote our [recommended] actions.”

In her remarks, Gov. Ivey encouraged Alabamians who haven’t been vaccinated to do so and outlined the “team effort” between her administration, Dr. Harris and the Health Department, Director Brian Hastings and the state Emergency Management Department and others.  She also acknowledged that business closures, the many lives lost and setbacks in education as some of the most difficult effects of the pandemic.  

“The response to the pandemic wasn’t perfect,” Gov. Ivey said, “and we regret some of the decisions made but [ultimately] we prevailed.” 

Task force co-chair Sen. Tim Melson, M.D., said his intention was for the task force to be a “fact-finding and not a fault-finding committee.”  Rep. Paul Lee, House Health Chairman and co-chair of the task force, said COVID-19 had been “a moving target” and that “hindsight is 20/20”.  Both Sen. Melson and Rep. Lee welcomed ideas from committee members and the public as to how to improve Alabama’s pandemic response moving forward.  The task force plans to meet again before the end of the summer.  

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