5 Member Questions from PAMED Regional Meetings

Pennsylvania Medical Society leaders crisscrossed the state over the past few weeks to meet with members and learn about their daily challenges. Here are five common questions that came out of those meetings:

Q1: Controlled Substances Database: When will it be ready and what’s taking so long?

The good news: The state legislature enacted a law that will create a statewide controlled substances database to give physicians another tool to fight the growing crisis of opioid abuse.

The bad news: They still needed state money to create it. The budget stalemate has slowed development of the database.

Funds from a recently awarded $900,000 CDC grant can be used to finally move forward with development, said PAMED’s Legislative Counsel Scot Chadwick in a recent blog post.

The state has yet to commit to a launch date, but PAMED will monitor development of the database and provide education to physicians on how to use it.

Education on the database will be part of our ongoing series, “Addressing Pennsylvania’s Opioid Crisis: What Health Care Teams Need to Know.” Session 1 of this series takes a deep dive into the state’s opioid prescribing guidelines and is available for free to members at www.pamedsoc.org/opioidresources.

Q2: Credentialing: Why does it take so long and what is PAMED doing about it?

Physicians at nearly every regional meeting expressed concern over the length of time it takes to become credentialed by insurance companies and state programs. We’re addressing this on a number of fronts.

PAMED discussed the issue with Sec. of Human Services Ted Dallas and other stakeholders. DHS recently announced efforts to address the length of the credentialing process with its Physical Health Managed Care Organizations in 2016.

In addition to engaging with DHS, we’re also supporting a bill that is expected to be introduced this fall that would streamline the credentialing process and make it more uniform across all insurers in Pennsylvania.

Q3: Why is it important that physicians participate in the Nov. 3 election?

It will mark an historic turnover on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, with three of the seven justice spots up for grabs. This has not happened in 200 years.

Since Supreme Court Justices are elected to 10-year terms, they have a significant and lasting impact on the interpretation of legal issues that are critical to physicians. There are also statewide elections for the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court judges.

After a lengthy evaluation process, the PAMPAC Board unanimously endorsed a bipartisan slate of candidates. Several of our endorsed candidates plan to attend the PAMPAC reception, which is free to all 2015 PAMPAC members, at the House of Delegates in Hershey on Oct. 23. This will be an excellent opportunity for physician leaders to speak personally with these candidates.

PAMPAC is getting the word out about the endorsed candidates through traditional/social media and direct PAMED member communication. Personal communication from a trusted resource is always the best way to encourage voter turnout, so please share information about these candidates with you patients, neighbors, and family.

Q4: How is PAMED working to enhance member value?

PAMED continues to serve as your advocate at the state and national level. But fighting to enact a bill or pass a regulation isn’t the end of the process – we’re also your resource to explain how those laws and regulations impact your daily practice.

One such example is our work with Pennsylvania’s growing opioid abuse crisis. PAMED helped write new state prescribing guidelines and supported enactment of laws that will create a statewide controlled substance database and expanded access to the opioid-reversal drug naloxone.

Our collaborative educational series – “Addressing Pennsylvania’s Opioid Crisis: What Health Care Teams Need to Know” – shows physicians and other prescribers how to efficiently use these new tools to combat opioid abuse among their patients.

Also, as more of our members become employed by hospitals and health systems, PAMED is working to create additional resources that increase the value of membership for that physician segment.

Some examples include continuing our physician leadership program, creating tools to enhance/improve physician engagement, and looking at quality portals and other services. We are learning from other state medical societies and specialty groups as well as focus groups of non-member physicians in Pennsylvania who are employed.

Q5: Medical marijuana: I don’t agree with PAMED’s position, what can I do about it?

There are a number of ways that physician members can raise meaningful debate on issues and impact PAMED policy. PAMED is, ultimately, run by its members and our positions on issues come from the majority who participate.

The upcoming House of Delegates serves as a good example.

PAMED currently opposes Senate Bill 3 – broad-ranging legislation that seeks to legalize medical marijuana in Pennsylvania – until its safety and efficacy can be proven through the FDA approval process. A resolution to be considered at the 2015 House of Delegates (Oct. 23-25) asks that PAMED maintain its opposition to SB 3 as currently worded, but support the use of medical marijuana for compassionate care and medical conditions in which no FDA-approved prescription drug medication is effective.

There are other ways to engage with PAMED throughout the year:

  • Leave comments on our website or talk with us on social media 
  • Write a post for PAMED’s Quality & Value blog or soon-to-be launched blog on employed physician issues; contact Jeff Wirick at jwirick@pamedsoc.org 
  • Become involved in an committee or task force; email your CV and topic of interest to Sharon Miller (smiller@pamedsoc.org
  • Become involved or communicate with your county medical society (see a list of counties and their contacts)