Pennsylvania Section report

Dr. Sherry L. BlumenthalSherry L. Blumenthal, MD, section chair

First, I would like to thank all the contributors to the OBesity Project and express thanks to the Council of District Chairs for recognizing the project with its Service Recognition Award. I read the other submissions and am quite humbled by the quality of the projects. I look forward to representing the section at the Congress Advisory Council Meeting and Research Awards Ceremony at the Annual Clinical Meeting in May. Read more about the project and its recognition.

I am beginning work on part II of the project, which focuses on the management of obesity for women. It will have its first presentation at the annual ob-gyn conference at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, NY, this fall. Anyone interested in collaborating on this, please let me know. The presentation will have sections on weight loss programs and what works in a clinic or office; instrumentation in the office and operating room; modifications in obstetrics, oncology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility, such as dose adjustments and positioning; and special surgical issues and techniques, such as bariatric surgery.  

I am happy to accept any suggestions for approaches or topics to be included. I would appreciate it if anyone who works in a clinic or hospital that is evaluating a weight loss program or has one in place would send me a copy of the program or the research protocol. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of evidence-based approaches to the problem. I would truly like to make this a District III project.

The Section Executive Committee met with officers from the Pennsylvania Association of Certified Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) on March 7 to discuss improving our relationship and entering into collaborative advocacy. ACNM has policies that are concordant with ACOG’s policies. One of the ACNM officers attended our section meeting on April 3. We hope to begin working together on common issues.

The District III educational roadshow, now called the Regional Ob-Gyn Up-to-Date New Didactic Series (ROUNDS) project, is getting ready to launch its series of lectures. We are gathering lists of hospitals and contacts throughout the district, applying for CME credit, and finalizing topics.

Eleven Pennsylvania Section members attended the ACOG Congressional Leadership Conference, The President’s Conference (CLC), in Washington, DC, March 3–5. Congratulations to Lynne M. Coslett-Charlton, MD, section treasurer and legislative chair, and the members of our Legislative Committee for receiving the ACOG Improvement in State Legislative Advocacy Award.

Section members had the privilege of presenting the 2012 ACOG Public Service Award to Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) at the CLC. Rep. Schwartz has introduced a bipartisan bill to repeal the sustainable growth rate and supports repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board. She is also a consistent advocate for women’s health care rights.

As usual, there has been much legislative activity in Pennsylvania. We have a productive relationship with our lobbyist, John Milliron. Currently, we are working on finding someone to sponsor a bill limiting liability for physicians who prescribe expedited partner therapy for chlamydia. We are also co-sponsoring a bill with the American College of Emergency Physicians to require stricter standards for liability in cases of emergency care.

Senate Bill 379 prevents apologies by physicians from being included as evidence in liability cases. It has moved out of committee and may soon be considered by the entire Senate. It left committee in the previous session, but was not voted on. Members are asked to urge their senators to request the Senate’s prompt consideration of the bill and to vote “yes” when the time comes.

Senate Bill 158 requires information relating to parenting and prenatal depression, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis, and other emotional trauma counseling and screening be provided to pregnant women. The general opinion of our Legislative Committee is that we should not support legislation that places mandates on physicians. Should legislation be introduced it would be most appropriate to place the obligation on the Department of Health, which would supply standardized, consistent materials to hospitals and birthing centers for distribution. ACOG supports prenatal and postpartum screening for depression. 

Senate Bill 5 establishes a community-based health care subsidy in the Department of Health. It has an extensive list of supporters and seems like a reasonable idea to improve access for underserved women. However, we have received little comment from our Legislative Committee members. We will redistribute the bill’s information for comment and reach out to members in academic medicine for more insight.

Senate Bill 358 requires the notification of breast density to patients who receive a mammogram. Senate Bill 359 provides coverage for ultrasound screening and magnetic resonance imaging if a mammogram demonstrates dense breast tissue or if a woman is believed to be at increased risk for breast cancer. Dr. Coslett-Charlton and our lobbyist have been working with Kathryn Moore, ACOG director of state legislative and regulatory affairs, on these issues. Our position in all matters involving legislation of medical decisions is to oppose that legislation. We also hope for support in this matter by other specialty societies. We learned at the District III Interim Advisory Council Meeting that a bill with similar mandates passed in New Jersey over our colleagues’ objections.

House Bill 809 requires all hospitals to perform pulse oximetry screening on newborns to detect congenital heart defects. We support the principle of the bill, but we cannot support mandating any medical decisions. We plan to work with the American Academy of Pediatrics to help educate our members to support this testing. Many hospitals already provide the testing, especially academic centers.

State Rep. Matthew Baker (R-Bradford/Tioga) has introduced three bills as a “rights of conscience” package. The bills would reverse much of the provisions regarding contraceptive coverage gained in the Affordable Care Act. We need to garner as much support as possible to prevent these bills from moving forward. We have attained a resolution from the Pennsylvania Medical Society to support insurance coverage of contraception for all women in Pennsylvania and will be enlisting its help.