Archive for Advocacy

Medical Association Supports Continued Funding for Maternal Death Investigations

Medical Association Supports Continued Funding for Maternal Death Investigations

‘Shocking’ Nearly 70% of Deaths Are Preventable, Experts Say      

MONTGOMERY – The Medical Association of the State of Alabama today joined Alabama legislators in calling for continued state funding to investigate why Alabama mothers die from childbirth and pregnancy complications at more than double the rate of women nationally.

The funding for this research, which was first appropriated by Governor Kay Ivey and the Alabama Legislature just last year, enables the Alabama Maternal Mortality Review Committee (AL-MMRC) to pay for additional autopsies and costs associated with compiling case files and reviewing medical records of Alabama mothers who died up to a year after giving birth. While the AL-MMRC was launched in 2018, it relied solely on the work of volunteers to undertake such reviews until last year.

Appearing at a press conference in Montgomery today, Aruna Arora, MD, MPH, President of the Medical Association, applauded Senator Linda Coleman-Madison for sponsoring a resolution spotlighting the findings of the first AL-MMRC report and acknowledging continued funding of the program is critical to saving Alabama mothers.

“The recent report of the Maternal Mortality Review Committee was both shocking and informative,” said Dr. Arora. “That nearly 70 percent of the deaths could have possibly been prevented highlights the inequities of our current health system and underscores the need for the continued annual review to determine why these high numbers of deaths are occurring. Funding the review committee provides invaluable insight into the deaths of Alabama mothers and will enable the experts to develop specific strategies to save lives in the future.”

For its initial report, the AL-MMRC undertook a review of all maternal deaths in the state from 2016. Highlights from that report include:

  • 36 mothers lost their lives within one year of the end of pregnancy and 36 percent of those deaths were directly related to the pregnancy.
  • Nearly 70 percent of deaths were determined to be preventable.
  • Mental health and substance use disorders were identified as key contributors in almost 50 percent of deaths.
  • 67 percent of deaths occurred 43 to 365 days after the end of pregnancy.

Additionally, the AL-MMRC also made more than 100 recommendations to improve maternal health. Chief among those recommendations is for the state to expand Medicaid. 

“Right now, amid a global pandemic, affordable and accessible health care is more important than ever,” continued Dr. Arora. “Just last week, new research found the risk of maternal mortality to be 22 times higher in women who tested positive for COVID-19 during pregnancy. Thus, with other research showing reduced maternal mortality rates and positive maternal health outcomes in states that expanded Medicaid, the decision to expand here in Alabama is abundantly clear.”

The Medical Association appreciates Governor Ivey’s recommendation for initial funding for the review committee for 2020-21 as well as the continued efforts from legislative leaders like Senator Coleman-Madison, Rep. Laura Hall, and others.                                                                                 

The Medical Association also launched an online social media effort aimed at increasing awareness of maternal health needs with #SaveAlMoms and a website:  www.alabamamedicine.org/SaveAlMoms/.


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American Rescue Plan Offers $940 Million for Medicaid Expansion and Other Benefits for Healthcare

American Rescue Plan Offers $940 Million for Medicaid Expansion and Other Benefits for Healthcare

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed by President Biden on Thursday, includes a number of key provisions that strengthen both public and private health insurance coverage. Among its Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provisions, the American Rescue Plan encourages states to finally take up the Medicaid expansion by offering even more favorable financial incentives than those already in place and allows states to provide longer postpartum health coverage for new mothers.

Right now, some 300,000 Alabamians living in the health coverage gap. They earn too much to qualify for Medicaid under the state’s stringent income limit but too little to qualify for subsidized ACA marketplace plans. If Alabama were to expand Medicaid and provide much-needed healthcare coverage for these individuals, the state would receive an estimated $940 million over two-years for doing so. 

A complete analysis of the Act and its potential impact is below. 

HEALTHCARE PROVISIONS

Additional Federal Funding to States that Newly Adopt the Medicaid Expansion

  • Newly expanding states would receive a 5-percentage-point increase in their FMAP for all non-expansion enrollees, who account for most of a state’s Medicaid enrollees and costs. The increase would begin the first day of the quarter that expansion begins and last for two years. Not only that, this increase is on top of the 6.2-percentage-point FMAP increase that all states will receive for the duration of the public health emergency under last year’s Families First Act, which will provide $86 billion in additional federal Medicaid dollars in 2020 and 2021. 
  • According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), Alabama would receive an estimated $940 million in federal funds for expanding. 

New Medicaid and CHIP Option for States to Extend Postpartum Coverage for 12 Months

  • The American Rescue Plan offers states a new “state plan” option to provide pregnancy-related Medicaid and CHIP coverage for one year after the end of pregnancy, extending coverage well beyond the current cutoff of 60 days. States can take up this option starting in the first calendar year quarter one year after enactment, which is April 1, 2022. The option, however, is temporary and will be available to states for five years unless Congress acts to extend it at a later time.
  • The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), for example, estimates that about 45 percent of women covered by Medicaid on the basis of pregnancy now become uninsured after the end of the 60-day postpartum coverage period. Alabama is no different, and this new option would directly help address our current maternal mortality statistics. 

Expansion of the State Medicaid Option for Coverage of COVID-19 Testing for the Uninsured to Include Coverage for COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatment

  • The Families First legislation included a Medicaid option for states to cover COVID-19 testing for the uninsured through the duration of the public health emergency. The federal government picks up 100 percent of the cost. The American Rescue Plan expands this fully federally-funded option to cover COVID-19 vaccines and their administration, and treatment, including prescription drugs, and treatment for conditions that complicate COVID-19 treatment.

Policies to Improve the Affordability and Access of Private Insurance Coverage

  • COBRA Coverage: Premiums for COBRA coverage for individuals who are laid off or leave their jobs because of the pandemic will be subsidized at 100% through September 30, 2021. The employer or health plan could claim a refundable tax credit against its Medicare payroll tax liability for the cost of the premiums.
  • Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace Subsidies: Refundable credits for households with income between 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL). For 2021 and 2022, premiums for individuals with income at 150% of the FPL will be eliminated, while premiums for all other households will be capped at 8.5% of their income.
  • Health Insurance Marketplace: $20 million in grants to states to modernize and update health insurance marketplace systems, programs, or technology.

Public Health Provisions

  • $7.66 billion to expand the public health workforce, including grants to state, local, and territorial health departments that increase the number of contact tracers, social support specialists, community health workers, public health nurses, epidemiologists, lab personnel, disease intervention specialists and communications personnel.
  • $7.6 billion for testing and vaccinations at community health centers (CHCs).
  • $3 billion for block grant programs under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide community mental health services and prevention and treatment of substance abuse.
  • $800 million for the National Health Service Corps, as well as $100 million reserved for state student loan repayment programs, $200 million for the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment program, and $330 million for teaching health centers that operate graduate medical education.
  • $250 million for states to establish “strike teams” that could be deployed at skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) with high rates of COVID-19.

Posted in: Advocacy, Health, Insurance, Medicaid, Medicare

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Stutts, Melson Defend “Physician-Led” ADPH in Committee Hearing

Stutts, Melson Defend “Physician-Led” ADPH in Committee Hearing

A bill (SB 240) by optometrist and Senate Health Committee Chairman Jim McClendon (R-Springville) to abolish the position of state health officer and overhaul the entire Alabama Department of Public Health and all county health departments in the state passed committee on an 8-3 vote this week.  The opposing votes came from Sens. Larry Stutts (R-Tuscumbia) and Tim Melson (R-Florence), both physicians, and also from Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook). 

Sen. McClendon told the audience that the State Committee of Public Health, which appoints the state health officer, was just “a private club” of doctors, and that he aimed to change that.  While current law provides that the State Committee of Public Health (12 physicians and four other members) appoints the state health officer, SB 240 would instead have the governor appoint a “secretary of health” who would not be required to be a physician in the proposed legislation.

Senators Larry Stutts, M.D. and Tim Melson, M.D, both took issue with McClendon’s explanation of the bill and with the bill itself.  Stutts said he believes the timing of the bill is wrong.

“The tail end of a pandemic is not the time to do this.  I respect Dr. Harris and his objectivity and expertise.  I haven’t always agreed with all the decisions made, but I don’t want the state health officer to be political appointment,” Stutts said. 

Melson agreed.

“I want the state health officer accountable to other doctors,” Melson said.  “I don’t want to make [it] a political position…I think the system may need a tune-up but not an overhaul, not what’s in this bill.”

Sen. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton), a pharmacist, said he thinks State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris should be “commended” for his work during the pandemic, adding “I think the state health officer needs to be a doctor.”

Those voting in favor of the bill in committee were Sens. Jim McClendon, Billy Beasley, Tom Whatley, Jack Williams, Sam Givhan, Donnie Chesteen, Garlan Gudger, and Linda Coleman-Madison. 

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2021 Legislative Session

2021 Legislative Session

Scope of Practice

  • ATHLETIC TRAINERS: This bill (SB73) provides for the licensing and regulation of athletic trainers relationship with a supervising physician, creates a joint committee of the two state boards, and expands the ability of athletic trainers to treat injuries sustained by physically active individuals. The Association worked with the ATs prior to the session and are supporting these bills. SB73 was sent to the Governor for signature. 
  • OPTOMETRY: This bill (SB174 & HB402) will allow optometrists (who do not undergo any surgical residencies anywhere in the U.S.) to perform surgeries and injections on the eye. This legislation is being pushed by Senator Jim McClendon, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee and an optometrist himself. You may recall the controversy surrounding similar legislation last year when Sen. McClendon rammed the bill through committee without calling a proper vote (video). We stand opposed to these bills and hope you will help us fight to ensure they are defeated once again. This bill has passed the Senate GA Committee. Ask your legislator to oppose this bill.
  • PODIATRY: This bill (HB291) will allow podiatrists who have completed as few as 2 years of podiatric residency (significantly less than a general orthopaedist and orthopaedic surgeon) to perform surgery on the foot and ankle. The same legislation was introduced last year but failed to receive a vote. We are working with the Alabama Orthopaedic Society to oppose this legislation. 
  • PHYSICAL THERAPY:  This bill (SB237) is brought by Sen. Jim McClendon and expands the services a licensed physical therapist can render without a prescription or referral in two ways: (1) it extends the current time limit for which services can be provided from 90 days to 120 days; and (2)  it allows physical therapists to treat patients without referral upon their determination that the patient is “medically stable” and “deemed suited to receive physical therapy.” We believe that a medical diagnosis is important and should always come before treatment.

Public Health

  • EMERGENCY TIMEFRAME & AUTHORITY: This bill (SB97) limits the timeframe for which a state of emergency can be declared (by the State Health Officer or Governor) to only 14 days. The bill also gives the Legislature the sole authority to extend such declarations. SB97 was carried over to the call of the chair.
  • COUNTY HEALTH OFFICERS: These bills (SB184 and HB168) would prohibit a county health officer from issuing orders or directives during an epidemic or disease outbreak if the State Health Officer has issued one already. The bill also applies to orders or directives on the county level that are more protective than the state’s guidance. The Association supports County Health Officers and believes local physicians are best suited to make decisions for their local population. HB168 passed out of committee this week.
  • ABOLISHING MLC & RESTRUCTURING BME: This bill (SB239) is brought by Sen. Jim McClendon and would abolish the Medical Licensure Commission, have the Board of Medical Examiners take on the duties of the Commission, and forbid leaders of any physician specialty organization from serving on the “new” board. By consolidating two, separate agencies into a single regulatory body, this legislation overhauls the current congressional representation requirements, revokes the appointment powers of the Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House, and decreases the board composition by more than half. The amount of issues the Association has with this legislation are lengthier than the bill itself. The Senate Healthcare Committee held a public hearing and vote on Wednesday. The bill was defeated by a vote of 8-3. Thank you to everyone who contacted their Senator and told them to oppose the bill! 
  • ABOLISHING & RESTRUCTURING STATE BOARD OF HEALTH: This bill (SB240) is brought by Sen. Jim McClendon and would abolish the State Board of Health, the State Committee of Public Health, the County Boards of Health, and the position of the State Health Officer (among other things). With the two boards and physician oversight no longer existing, the bill creates a new State Health Advisory Board made up of a laundry list of individuals who have some type of relationship to healthcare. County Boards of Health are instantly gone, too, turning such over to the determination of the County Commission. Strangely enough, the State Health Officer position would not exist, but two roles take its place, with the highest (termed “Secretary of the Alabama Department of Public Health”) now appointed by the governor with no requirement that he/she be a physician. We support our state and local boards of health, we support our State Health Officer, and we will vehemently oppose this bill. It passed the Senate Health Committee and awaits consideration from the full Senate. Ask your legislator to oppose
  • IMMUNIZATION REGISTRY (ImmPrint): This bill (HB184) by Rep. Paul Lee would require health care providers to report immunization data to the ImmPrint registry and to review the registry before a vaccine is administered. Annual influenza vaccinations are exempt from the review requirement for adults, but are still required to be reported. The Association worked with members of our President’s Council and other specialties in support of this bill. It passed the House this week and moves to the Senate.
  • COMMUNITY PARAMEDICINE: These bills (HB141 and SB115) would authorize ADPH to establish and administer a community paramedicine program that allows paramedics to provide certain services to patients. The Association worked ACEP and other specialties in drafting the bill. It passed the House this week and moves to the Senate.
  • MEDICAL MARIJUANA: This bill (SB46) by Sen. Tim Melson, M.D. (R—Florence) would authorize medical marijuana in the state. The House Judiciary Committee, the first of two House committees expected to vet the bill, conducted a public hearing Wednesday. Rep. Mike Ball (R—Madison), a Judiciary Committee member and retired law enforcement officer, is shepherding the bill in the House. The committee is scheduled to vote on SB46 after spring break, and the bill appears to be in a better position than in years past.
  • SEXUAL ASSAULT SURVIVORS BILL OF RIGHTS: This bill (HB137) creates the Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights and provides certain rights to all victims of sexual assault. The bill also creates a task force responsible for developing recommendations for improving the coordination of the dissemination and implementation of best practices and protocols to hospital administrators, physicians, forensic examiners, and other medical associations and leaders in the medical community. The Association worked with the bill sponsor to amend the bill and ensure physician liability was not expanded. It passed the committee and awaits a full vote by the Senate.

Lawsuits & Liability

  • COVID-19 LIABILITY PROTECTION: This bill (SB30) provides liability protection to physicians, health facilities, and businesses from claims arising from COVID-19 and the state’s response to the pandemic. The Medical Association, with the help of Starnes, Davis, Florie, LLP, worked with Sen. Arthur Orr in drafting this bill. SB30 has officially been signed by the Governor. 
  • GENDER CHANGE THERAPY:  These bills (HB1 & SB10) would make it a felony for doctors to treat transgender youth with hormonal therapy and puberty blockers to help their transition. More specifically, the bills would prohibit the use of puberty-blocking drugs, hormonal therapy and surgery to treat transgender minors. Violators could face up to 10 years in prison. A House Judiciary committee amendment was added to narrow the focus of the bill and remove “counseling” a patient and “dispensing” medication to a patient from the list of prohibited activities. SB10 passed the House Judiciary Committee and awaits a vote from the full House. Read more on these bills at AL Daily News, AL.com, and KFF
  • BORN ALIVE ABORTION: This bill (HB237) would make it a Class A felony if a physician does not exercise reasonable care to preserve the life of a child born alive after an abortion or attempted abortion in an abortion or reproductive health center. HB237 passed the House and moves to the Senate.
  • CHEMICAL ABORTION: This bill (HB137) expands a physician’s standard of care to mandate three types of required patient disclosures when performing or attempting to perform chemical abortions or abortions due to a medical emergency. A physician performing or attempting to perform an abortion who violates these rules recklessly or knowingly is guilty of a Class C felony, and does not have a medical emergency exception authorizing abortion to be “a claim or diagnosis that the woman will engage in conduct which she intends to result in her death or in substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” We oppose.
  • GENITAL MUTILATION: This bill (HB252) creates the crime of “genital mutilation” as a Class B Felony in Alabama. Although the list of acts that constitute “genital mutilation” is long, nothing in the bill applies to procedures medically necessary procedures or procedures performed during labor. The legislation adheres to the ACOG position on genital mutilation and also contains Medical Association language explicitly stating that nothing shall be construed to establish a standard of care for hospitals or physicians. HB252 passed out of committee and awaits a full vote from the house.
  • MEDICAID FALSE CLAIMS ACT: This bill (SB241) is brought by Sen. Jim McClendon and prohibits certain fraudulent activities affecting the Alabama Medicaid program. Furthermore, liability for violations of these prohibitions includes (1) a civil penalty of $5,500-$11,000 per claim, and (2) treble damages. These prohibitions and penalties are different and much more drastic than what currently Medicaid and Medicare law provides, creating very serious liability and monetary concerns for physicians. The Senate Judiciary Committee discussed the bill last Wednesday but, due to opposition from Sen. Larry Stutts, M.D., Sen. Roger Smitherman, and others, it did not receive a vote.

Finance & Taxation

  • CARES ACT TAX EXCLUSION: These bills (SB98 & HB170) exclude any money received from the CARES Act or other similar COVID-related relief measures from Alabama income tax. “We are not going to tax any of the stimulus monies that came in for businesses, for individuals, for anyone,” said Senator Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook). HB170 was signed by the Governor.

Federal Legislation

  • MEDICAID EXPANSION: On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Recovery Act of 2021. The legislation includes a short provision outlining that states, for a length of five years, can extend Medicaid eligibility to women for 12 months after giving birth. The bill also provides an incentive for states that newly expand Medicaid by temporarily increasing the state’s base FMAP by 5% for two years. Please join the Cover Alabama Coalition in supporting Medicaid expansion in Alabama.

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ALAPAC-Supported Kirk Hatcher wins Democratic nomination for Senate District 26

ALAPAC-Supported Kirk Hatcher wins Democratic nomination for Senate District 26

Former State Rep. Kirk Hatcher won the Democratic nomination for Senate District 26, defeating former Rep. John Knight in a runoff with 74% of the vote. Hatcher will face Rep. William Greene in a special general election on March 2.

A Montgomery native and former English educator with 17 years of experience, Hatcher currently is the director of Head Start in Montgomery County. To learn more about Kirk Hatcher, check out his campaign website or his profile in the Montgomery Advertiser.

Hatcher was elected in 2018 to represent District 78 in the House and though only serving a short time as a representative, he believes that he is ready and capable to serve the people of District 26 in the Senate.

Hatcher raised more than $123,000 for the race between Oct. 1 and Dec. 8 (Knight raised a little over $39,000) and has gotten the backing of the Alabama Democratic Conference, the Medical Association of the State of Alabama, the Alabama Association of Realtors and the Alabama Grocers Association. Hatcher said he hopes to use those endorsements to improve the district.

As the political action committee for the Medical Association, ALAPAC supports candidates who best represent the interests of physicians and their patients. This is why ALAPAC supported Kirk Hatcher for Senate District 26.

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ALAPAC Announces Support for April Weaver in Senate District 14

ALAPAC Announces Support for April Weaver in Senate District 14

Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) is proud to announce its support of former State Representative April Weaver in the upcoming special election for Senate District 14.

The ALAPAC Board considers many factors in making campaign support decisions, including candidate-vetting meetings with ALAPAC staff and board members, electronic surveys of ALAPAC contributors, third-party polling data and outreach from local physician ALAPAC contributors voicing support. Regarding its decision to support Weaver, ALAPAC Board Chairman David Herrick, M.D. noted her previous role as Chair of the House Health Committee and the relationships Weaver has built with physicians in her area and across the state.

“Supporting April Weaver for Senate District 14 was an easy decision,” Herrick said. “From her previous roles in both the Alabama House of Representatives 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.”

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 is that type of candidate, and we encourage all physicians in Senate District 14 to support her campaign. The special primary election is Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Senate District 14 represents portions of Bibb, Chilton, Hale, Jefferson and Shelby counties.

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Discussions with Decisionmakers: Barry Moore

Discussions with Decisionmakers: Barry Moore
Discussions with Decisionmakers

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

I am Barry Moore from Enterprise, Alabama. I grew up on a farm in Coffee County. In 1992 I graduated from Auburn University with a degree in Agricultural Science. Since 1998, my wife Heather and I own and operate Hopper-Moore Inc., a waste-hauling and demolition company. I served in the Alabama House as District 91’s State Representative for 8 years. During that tenure I served as Chairman of Military and Veteran Affairs and several other committees. Heather and I have four children- Jeremy, Kathleen, Claudia and Jeb.

2. What first prompted you to consider running for your House District seat and how do you believe your background and experiences help you serve in the legislature?

I have four fundamentals that guide all aspects of my life: Faith, Family, Finance and Freedom. I felt this has been a calling from God and I have answered that call. Our nation must have leaders with the courage to stand and serve with humility. I am a veteran and the only veteran serving in the Alabama delegation. I ran for Congress in 2018 against an incumbent. It laid the ground-work for 2020 when Congresswoman Roby decided to retire. With much prayer I entered the race along with seven other candidates and by the grace of God, I won. My experience in the Alabama House gave me a track record of how I voted and my work ethic. I was voted the most conservative dependable vote and I will continue to serve my constituents in the same manner.

3. Can you tell us a little about some health-related issues important to your district and your constituents?

Right now, protecting our rural hospitals is very important to District 2. These hospitals are front line to so many different health care emergencies to include CoVid and Mental Health.

4. If you could change one thing about our current healthcare system, what would it be?

I would encourage more physician-patient confidentiality and keep the government out of the decision-making process that may place unnecessary pressure upon the patient or the physician. In other words, let our doctors do their job without the interference of the government.

5. How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help you better address our state (and nation’s) current health challenges?

Continue to work together with an open line of communication and dialogue that effectively serves the people.

6. What’s the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?

Absolutely want to say a huge THANK YOU for the incredible job you are doing. The year 2020 has been a year like no other and without our physicians working the way they have, especially the front-line physicians, working directly with CoVid patients, our state would have suffered even greater. My office will always be grateful and open to MASA and look forward to working together.

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Discussions with Decisionmakers: Jerry Carl

Discussions with Decisionmakers: Jerry Carl
Discussions with Decisionmakers

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

I have spent most of my life creating and building small businesses, primary dealing with home healthcare equipment and specialty pharmacies. Presently, my wife and I own one pharmacy that serves hemophilia patients. In my spare time, I love being outdoors, hunting, fishing, and spending time with my grandkids.

2. What first prompted you to consider running for your House District seat and how do you believe your background and experiences help you serve in the legislature?

As a native of Mobile, I love everything about my district and have always been proud to call it home. I care about our area and want to do everything possible to help improve the lives of everyone who calls South Alabama home. I have no doubt my experience working with all levels of government as a county commissioner has prepared me well to serve as Congressman for the First District.

I felt prompted to run for Congress when my son, a Marine, came back from active duty in Afghanistan, and I saw the struggles he was having with the VA healthcare system. I knew with my business background and knowledge of the medical industry, I could help make a difference in the lives of our veterans.

3. Can you tell us a little about some health-related issues important to your district and your constituents?

The immediate issue facing our area is the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be key to work with local and state governments to continue limiting the spread of the virus, as well as distributing vaccines once they are available. Moving forward, we must refocus on the rising costs of healthcare, including prescription medication. I look forward to working closely with all levels of government and the AMA to help address these issues.

4. If you could change one thing about our current healthcare system, what would it be?

Our insurance markets need greater competition. I believe we need market-based insurance solutions rather than bloated government programs. This includes allowing individuals the ability to purchase their insurance across state lines and ensuring those with pre-existing conditions are protected.

5. How can the Medical Association – and physicians statewide – help you better address our state (and nation’s) current health challenges?

Overcoming the challenges our healthcare system faces is complex and will require hard work on all sides of the issue. Anytime the Association, physicians, and other medical stakeholders in our state have a concern or an idea, please reach out to me. The more I understand the challenges you face, the more likely we will be to find a solution together.

6. What’s the one thing you would like to say to physicians in your district?

Thank you for all you do for our community day in and day out, especially this year. Covid-19 has been difficult on every American. However, no one has felt this more than our physicians and healthcare workers. 2020 has reminded everyone just how important our physicians are, and I am grateful for the work you continue to do for the people of our district.

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ALAPAC Announces New Regional Board Program

ALAPAC Announces New Regional Board Program

The Alabama Medical PAC (ALAPAC) recently revised its bylaws to create 10 Regional Boards (RB) that will increase specialty and individual practice participation in local and statewide candidate support decisions.

Under this new structure:

  1. Each specialty with at least a 25% multi-year average participation in ALAPAC will be invited to nominate a physician for each RB throughout the state, and,
  2. Each individual practice with 100% multi-year ALAPAC participation will be invited to nominate a member of the practice to the local RB.  

“The ALAPAC Board is excited about this new direction and believes it will better help us raise funds to aid in the election of candidates we as physicians can work with on complex health policy issues,” Chair David Herrick, M.D., said.

Physicians nominated by either their specialty or their practice to serve on an RB must maintain Medical Association membership and ALAPAC contributor status to continue serving. As well, each RB member will work with ALAPAC to increase contributions from amongst local physicians of his or her respective specialty. 

If your specialty or your practice qualifies for the new RB program, society leadership and practice members and staff will soon be notified. If you have questions about or would like to check on your specialty’s or your practice’s eligibility, please contact Niko Corley at ncorley@alamedical.org or (334) 261-2000. 

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Advocacy in Action: Recapping AAFP’s “Day on the Hill”

Advocacy in Action: Recapping AAFP’s “Day on the Hill”

Why Advocacy Matters

Multiple times each legislative session, the Medical Association’s Government Relations team calls and emails physicians asking them to contact their legislator(s) regarding a specific bill or amendment. As evidenced by the Association’s track record of advocacy successes each year, a number of physicians respond to these “calls to action,” but not near as many as needed.

Unfortunately, there is a belief (not only amongst physicians) that an individual’s voice doesn’t matter; that emails to legislators won’t be read; that phone calls to legislators won’t be passed along; or that legislators won’t listen. Whatever the reason, the underlying premise – that an individual’s voice can’t make a difference – is incorrect.

Not only do legislators desire to hear from constituents, they desperately need to hear from physician-constituents on important health topics. Still, many legislators are surprised when they hear from local physicians at all. This must change.

Heeding the Medical Association’s calls to action could not only have lasting impacts on legislators’ positions on a particular issue, but it could also open the door for physicians to weigh in on other health-related topics.

As the old adage goes, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” The Medical Association makes it a priority to ensure physicians are at the table, but medicine can’t get there without individual physicians doing their part; our likelihood of continued success on state health policy issues depends on your advocacy.  

AAFP's Advocacy Efforts

In early March – shortly before the legislature shutdown due to COVID concerns – the Medical Association teamed up with the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the UAB Rural Scholars Program for a day of advocacy at the State House. Particular topics spotlighted throughout the day were the need for updates to the Rural Physician Tax Credit and increasing funding for the BMSA.

Of those in attendance were Dr. Bill Coleman, Dr. David Bramm, Dr. Holly McCaleb, Dr. Drake Lavender, Wesley Minor, and Whitney Lee. Every single one of these individuals made their presence known throughout the State House and displayed an energy for advocacy. Whether it was a short introduction in the hallway or a private meeting in a legislator’s office, the conviction and effectiveness with which they spoke made a lasting impression on every individual they met.

And their work paid off.

In fact, just a couple months later, when COVID had shut down most government bodies and future budgets were being slashed, state legislators decided not only fully fund the BMSA, but to increase its appropriation by over half-a-million dollars.

In a follow-up email to one of the participants from that day, said this:

You lay out your proof in detail not only as to why BMSA has been a good investment, but why it deserves increased funding based on sound business principles using ROI comparisons. I have been a supporter in the House since the issue was presented, passed, then enacted as statutory law.  I will be a willing ally in keeping these programs funded and growing. . . Thanks for “making my day” with your excellent communication!

 

We are extremely appreciative these individuals took time out of their day to travel to Montgomery and advocate on issues important to them and their peers. We also appreciate Jeff Arrington, Executive Director of AAFP, for his tireless efforts in helping to coordinate this event. The increased funding for BMSA is, no doubt, a direct result of their hard work.

Wesley Minor meets with his Senator, Majority Leader Greg Reed (R-Jasper)

Whitney Lee and Dr. David Bramm meet with Rep. Mike Holmes (R-Wetumpka)

Wesley Minor and Dr. Bill Coleman meet with Rep. Tim Wadsworth (R-Winston)

From left to right: Dr. Holly McCaleb, Dr. Drake Lavender, Dr. David Bramm, Senator Larry Stutts, M.D. ( R-Tuscumbia), Wesley Minor, Whitney Lee, Dr. Bill Coleman, and Jeff Arrington, who discussed the importance of increasing access to care in rural areas through programs like the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards and the Rural Medical Scholars Program.

Posted in: Advocacy, Members, Scholarship

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