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Pennsylvania Section report

Dr. Kurt T. BarnhartKurt T. Barnhart, MD, immediate past section chair

The new Pennsylvania Section Advisory Council has been assembled and met in December and March. My many thanks to its outstanding members: Sherry L. Blumenthal, MD, past chair, Lynne M. Coslett-Charlton, MD, vice chair, Stephen J. Smith, MD, treasurer, and Amanda B. Flicker, MD, secretary. We have also engaged the western part of our state with new additions: Gabriella G. Gosman, MD, and Isabelle A. Wilkins, MD, who are on the faculty at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh.

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 Associates and maintain a close collaboration with the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED).

I am now a member of the PAMED Specialty Leadership Cabinet, which is a three-year term. Dr. Blumenthal was elected to the PAMED Board of Trustees in October as the new trustee representing ob-gyn. She will serve a four-year term. Other ob-gyns on the PAMED Board include John Spurlock, MD, as vice speaker, Enrique Hernandez, MD, as first district trustee, and John Gallagher, MD, as eighth district trustee.

Brandi N. Ring, MD, past section Junior Fellow chair, is our representative to the Adolescent Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Disease, and HIV Collaborative to assess how to better disseminate information and educate women across the state, an initiative started by Temple University.

The Pennsylvania Section Legislative Committee meets on a regular basis to prioritize its legislative efforts. We are currently supporting bills that would:

  • Amend the Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error Act with liability protection for emergency physicians and emergency personnel
  • Establish the Patient-Centered Medical Home Advisory Council, which would provide recommendations to the Department of Public Welfare on this quality-improving and cost-containing model of health care
  • Provide insurance coverage for mammograms and increase eligibility for breast and cervical cancer screenings through the Pennsylvania Department of Health

We are currently opposing bills that would:

  • Allow state and local governments to opt out of coverage for contraception, sterilization, or abortifacient drugs or devices
  • Require insurance companies to offer duplicate policies to employers—one with coverage for contraception, sterilization, or abortifacient drugs or devices and one without
  • Prohibit employers from offering employees who don’t want coverage for contraception, sterilization, or abortifacient drugs or devices a plan that covers them

The section is working with a sponsor of a bill regarding pertussis education to remove a mandate for physicians to advise patients about the disease. We successfully worked with a sponsor of a bill requiring physicians to notify patients of dense breast tissue on its notification language. The amended bill was signed by Gov. Tom Corbett. We are in great need of informational material to disseminate to our membership on how to handle this new mandate.

The Pennsylvania Section Lobby Day is scheduled for September. Physicians will spend the day at the State Capitol discussing timely issues and bills with state senators and representatives. The section was represented by 10 members at the Congressional Leadership Conference in March in Washington, DC.