Archive for Advocacy

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 passed the Senate and will now be considered by the House. 
  • 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. 
  • 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 and others on both amendable amendments and an advocacy action plan. 
  • 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 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 passed out of committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate.
  • 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. 
  • IMMUNIZATION REGISTRY (ImmPrint): This bill (HB184) would require health care providers to report immunization data to the registry and to review the registry before a vaccine is administered. Annual influenza vaccinations are exempt from the review requirement but are still required to be reported. We worked with ADPH and others in drafting the bill and are in full support of it passing.
  • COUNTY HEALTH OFFICERS: This bill (SB184) 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.
  • ABOLISHING MLC & RESTRUCTURING MLC: 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. We oppose. 
  • 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 will be debated in the Senate Health Committee next week. 
  • 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 include (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. We oppose.

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. Any legislation setting new standards of care in statute is of serious concern to the Association. Read more on these bills at AL Daily News, AL.com, and KFF
  • 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 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. 

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).

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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.

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Discussions with Decisionmakers: Rep. Howard Sanderford

Discussions with Decisionmakers: Rep. Howard Sanderford

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

I’m an accountant by education, and received my bachelor’s degree from Mississippi State University. Following college, I served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. From there, I went to work with IBM and eventually left to open my own company, Computer Leasing Company, Inc.

In the community, I have served in various roles with various organizations, including past President of the Huntsville Rotary Club, past Chairman of the Madison County Republican Executive Committee, past Co-chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Free Enterprise Committee, past Vice President of the Metropolitan YMCA Board, and I was a member of the Alabama Commission on Aerospace Sciences and the Alabama Management Improvement Program.

Today, I am a board member of the Alabama Space and Rocket Center, Volunteers of America of North Alabama, YMCA, Alabama Men’s Hall of Fame, and Alabama Board of Medical Scholarship Awards (BMSA).

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention my wife, Dot, and our three children: Mary Ann, Peggy, and Betty.

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?

Following retirement from IBM, I became more involved in political organizations in the Huntsville area. When then-representative and democrat, Stephen Hettinger, left the seat in 1988 to become mayor of Huntsville, the Madison County GOP was looking for a candidate to run for the seat. As it turned out, nobody wanted to do it; so, the Executive Committee asked me to run for District 20 as a republican.

Frankly, the last thing I wanted to do is run the highway from Huntsville to Montgomery. Now, 32 years (1988 – Present) later, I guess the position was meant for me.

3. Every legislative session, you are a leading voice in bringing awareness to one of the Medical Association’s top priorities – increasing funding for the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards (BMSA) and ensuring there are primary care physicians working in rural, medically underserved areas of the state.  Tell us a little about why this issue is so important to you. 

This is a funny story. I actually had no idea that I was being appointed. In fact, I found out at a legislative reception one evening years ago when Governor Hunt approached me and said, “I appointed to you a board today. I forgot which one but I’ll send you a letter.” It just so happened to be the BMSA.

BMSA is a tremendous program. I’m extremely glad Governor Hunt decided – for whatever reason – to appoint me to this board. The program deserves more money to put more physicians in areas of need because year after year we have more applicants than we do scholarships. And every one of these applicants is the “best of the best.”

4. By increasing funding for the BMSA, if Alabama is able to reverse the trend of having a shortage of primary care physicians, what kind of message does that send for the state’s ability to tackle other troubling health care issues?

This program has a major impact on healthcare in Alabama. Most physicians in these areas struggle to pay of their loans or succeed. Those who are selected for the BMSA are typically the top of their class and have a true desire to give back to communities who lack proper access. These young men and women want to go serve rural Alabama; it’s unfortunate we cannot provide them with the money to help them do it.

5. If you could change one thing about our state’s health care system, what would it be?

More physicians. Even I have struggled to find a physician, and I live in Huntsville. Those in areas with one or two – or even zero – physicians face even more burdensome hurdles.

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

Whether it be bills before my Committee – Boards, Agencies, and Commissions – or others being considered by the entire House, the Medical Association has always been there to provide us with much needed information. Continuing to do so is needed and much appreciated.

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

We appreciate you. My wife and I have seen a fair share of physicians over the years – from broken bones of our children to our own personal illnesses – and we are grateful for the care we received. These are unique times, but we will make it through. Keep up the good work.

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2nd Annual President’s Council Meeting Joined by Legislative Leadership

2nd Annual President’s Council Meeting Joined by Legislative Leadership

Nearly two weeks ago (October 17), the Medical Association hosted its 2nd Annual President’s Council Legislative Roundtable to discuss priorities for the upcoming 2021 Session. This year’s event included a Q&A session with legislative leadership, an open forum with physicians and executive directors from each medical specialty, and an update on major developments with ALAPAC.

 

Although the pandemic forced the event to take place virtually, this year’s Legislative Roundtable was once again a resounding success. We are especially grateful to those physicians who took time out of their Saturday morning to join us via Zoom and provide insight as to those issues most impacting their specialty.

 

To that end, we are proud to announce that, as a direct result of the input and discussion from the Roundtable, the Medical Association has finalized its 2021 Legislative Agenda. These priorities were developed by members of the President’s Council on October 17, presented to physicians on the Government Relations Committee of the Medical Association on October 20, and approved by the entire Board of Censors on October 21. 

 

To those Medical Association members who are interested in learning more about the President’s Council and our legislative priorities, we have included a few different items below to keep you up-to-date. Not only are we publishing a link to our 2021 Agenda, we have also put the Roundtable’s Legislative Q&A is on YouTube.

 

Lastly, the names of those physicians who are representing their specialty on the President’s Council is published below. We are thankful to have such an awesome group of individuals who are willing to be leaders in medicine and we hope you will join them in advocating on behalf of physicians and patients in 2021.

Watch the Legislative Panel Q&A

2021 President's Council Members

Dr. Allen Meadows
Dr. John Tole
Dr. Suzanne Blaylock
Dr. Bill Curry
Dr. Jo Herzog
Dr. Bryan Balentine
Dr. Hamad Husainy
Dr. Annalise Sorrentino
Dr. Ray Stewart
Dr. Travis Rutland
Dr. Amit Arora
Dr. Bob Robinson

Dr. David Ellington
Dr. Janeen Arbuckle
Dr. Russell Read
Dr. Trey Baird
Dr. Clinton Martin
Dr. Dan Dahl
Dr. Doug Sutherland
Dr. David McLain
Dr. Mark Parker
Dr. Michael Bivins
Dr. Richard Jones

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2021 Legislative Agenda

2021 Legislative 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 2021.

General Legislative 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 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.

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 Legislative Priorities Supported

For the 2021 Legislative Session, the Association specifically supports:

  • Legislation to provide physicians and medical practices “safe harbor” from COVID-related lawsuits.
  • Legislation prohibiting deceptive health care advertising and requiring health professionals identify their license to patients.
  • Reforming the “certificate of need”  process  to increase physician ownership of equipment and facilities and expand access to quality, affordable care.
  • Recommendations of the Rural Health Taskforce, including increased funding for the Board of Medical Scholarship Awards and broadening the rural physician tax credit.
  • Mandated review of the state vaccine registry prior to administration and uploading of patient vaccine information into the database.
  • Continued physician compounding and dispensing of drugs.
  • Same standards and reimbursements for telehealth as for face-to-face visits, and expanding broadband initiatives to facilitate increased use of telemedicine.

General Legislative Policies Opposed

The Medical Association opposes any scope of practice expansion for non-physicians, which could fracture the physician-led health team model and lower quality of care and 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 Legislative Polcies Opposed

For the 2021
Legislative Session, the Association specifically opposes:

  • 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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