PAMED Board Gears Up: End of 2014 Legislative Calendar; Fresh Start in 2015

This fall, more than 350 health care related bills are awaiting action at the state Capitol. During the Sept. 10 meeting of the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s (PAMED) Board of Trustees, the board further refined strategies to achieve PAMED’s legislative goals for the session slated to end this fall and for the start of the new two-year session in January.

PAMED Chief Legislative Counsel Scot Chadwick summarized the current status of Pennsylvania’s legislative process rather aptly in his August blog: “While most of their constituents are firing up their backyard grills, lawmakers are firing up their reelection campaigns, because, believe it or not, the November election is now just two months away….However, between now and then, House and Senate members will make a four-week foray to Harrisburg to clean up some unfinished business…”

Teed up this fall: Prescription monitoring database
A top priority that PAMED is seeking in the few voting days left this year—probably less than 10—is enactment of legislation to create a prescription drug monitoring database to help physicians identify drug seekers. “It’s not only necessary, but also doable,” Mr. Chadwick told reporters during a media call-in on legislative priorities hosted by PAMED earlier in September.

PAMED has been working with the Corbett administration on several initiatives aimed at tackling the state’s prescription drug abuse crisis. One element of the joint response to this crisis was the recent adoption of voluntary prescribing guidelines for the treatment of chronic non-cancer pain. These guidelines, drafted by the state and adopted by the PAMED Board at its meeting on May 21, 2014, were announced at a joint press conference held by the state and PAMED on July 10.

A PAMED committee, appointed by the board, is continuing to work with the Joint State Government Committee on the pathway to implementation of the guidelines.

Long-term goal: Team-based, physician-led care
A longer-term, but no less important, PAMED priority is passage of legislation to strengthen physician-led, team-based care. Legislative According to Larry Light, PAMED senior vice president of physician advocacy and political affairs, “The bill we are seeking would create a patient centered medical home advisory council, which would be a significant start to this concept and would help us achieve the goals of ensuring high quality and expanding access.” The PAMED Board continued strategic discussions to achieve this goal during their September meeting.

Addressing the issue of team-based care earlier this spring, PAMED President Bruce MacLeod, MD, said of independent practice for nurse practitioners, “This is a step in the wrong direction: the practice of modern medicine requires a team-based approach where care is coordinated and all health care providers practice to the full extent of their training and experience. A physician typically has between 12,000 and 16,000 hours of total patient care through medical training. A nurse practitioner has 500 to 720 hours. That’s a big difference.

“As we gear up for the start of the next legislative session in January, the board reviewed a long list of bills that PAMED will be monitoring, opposing and supporting,” said Executive Vice President Mike Fraser, PhD, CAE.

Watch for more information on how you can take part in PAMED’s advocacy as the board refines our strategies and kicks off advocacy campaigns later this fall.