Report of the Pennsylvania Section Chair
I am pleased to report that the new Pennsylvania Section Advisory Council has been assembled and has begun to meet. We have an outstanding Advisory Council that includes Past Chair Sherry Blumenthal, Vice Chair Lynne Coslett-Charlton, Treasurer Stephen Smith, and Secretary Amanda Flicker. We have also been able to engage the Western portion of Pennsylvania with new additions Gabriella Gosman and Isabelle Wilkins.
The main focus of the Pennsylvania Section continues to be supporting and reacting to legislative initiatives. We have extended and expanded the contract with our lobbying partner, Milliron and Associates, and continue a close collaboration with PAMED (the Pennsylvania Medical Society.) The PA ACOG Legislative Committee meets on a regular basis to prioritize efforts and establish positions and priority. A sample of some of these initiatives follows:
House Bill 804 – Clear and Convincing Standard in Emergency Care – An act amending the act of March 20, 2002, known as the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of error (MCARE) Act, providing for emergency care. This bill would “raise” the standard for medical liability when treating in an emergent situation (of a patient unknown to the clinician.) HB 804 is also a priority for our emergency medicine colleagues, as well as for PAMED. PA ACOG supports this bill, considers it a high priority, and has testified at the State Capitol in its support.
House Bill 1587 – Coverage for Mammographic Examinations – PA ACOG supports this position, but the bill is unlikely to move as, at this time, the General Assembly won’t consider any insurance mandates on insurance companies.
House Bill 1900 – Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Screening Act – Expands screening from current ages 40-49 and replaces with eligibility ages 30-64. PA ACOG supports this legislation, but, based on the political make-up of its sponsorship, the bill is not likely to move.
House Bill 1049 – An Act ensuring the rights of conscience of Pennsylvania citizens relating to health insurance; and providing for health insurance coverage limitations for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs and devices. This bill permits state and local governments to opt out of coverage for contraception, sterilization, or abortifacient drugs or devices. PA ACOG would oppose this bill if it moves forward.
PA ACOG has successfully worked to amend other bills which have become law. The recently-passed Breast Density Legislation represents a success, of sorts, for our organization. This law is part of a national movement to legislate medical practice based on the advocacy of special interest groups. We currently strongly oppose politicians who dictate any practice of medicine. However, the Breast Density Legislation had widespread sympathy with a blind eye toward unintended consequences. Our hard-fought but small victory softened the notification language to reduce alarm to our patients. Hopefully, this will reduce the burden to our practice due to misinformation given to our patients. Informational material has been disseminated in conjunction with PAMED to help deal with this new mandate. ACOG-specific information should be forthcoming. We were also successful in removing a physician mandate from a Pertussis Education bill.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank the numerous PA Ob/Gyns that are actively involved in PAMED. Congratulations to the new PAMED OB Trustee, Dr. Sherry Blumenthal, and thank you to John Spurlock, Vice Speaker of the PAMED House of Delegates, Enrique Hernandez, First District Trustee, and John Gallagher, Eighth District Trustee. I would also like to congratulate Tony Castle for his recent nomination to the Pennsylvania State Board of Medicine.
PA ACOG Legislative/Lobby day Please join us for the next PA ACOG Legislative/Lobby day planned for September 23, 2014. This ongoing program provides a chance for Physicians (both senior and junior) to spend the day at the State Capitol discussing timely issues and bills with their State Senators and Representatives. Thus far, Legislative/Lobby Day has been highly successful.
District III “ROAD SHOW”
I would also like to highlight the District III “ROAD SHOW.” ACOG District III is sponsoring CME lectures on hot topics from local experts at your local hospital or intuition. Topics range from breast density, effects of obesity on clinical management, pearls in obstetrics, menopause, and reproduction. These rounds are at no cost to your hospital and are just for the asking. A full list of the project and the topic can be found here. Our goal is to bring ACOG to you! If you are interested in arranging such a program, please contact Christine Himes at the ACOG District III office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Future and ongoing issues of interest to PA ACOG include the role of Ob/Gyns as primary care physicians, implications of the new ICD-10 disease classification system, and the ongoing debate regarding independent practice and physician lead medical team. Please speak up, show your support, voice your concerns, and help us optimize the voice and power of PA ACOG in support of us all!
Kurt Barnhart, MD, MSCE