Legislative activities update

Dr. Tony OgburnDr. Suzanne BurloneTony Ogburn, MD, District VIII legislative chair, and Suzanne Burlone, MD, District VIII Junior Fellow legislative chair

The Congressional Leadership Conference (CLC) was a great success this year—bigger and better than ever. District VIII was well represented with more than 60 attendees, which was the second most of any district! Thanks to all those who attended and the section leaders who supported them.

The conference was held March 2–4 in Washington, DC. It was a bit snowy, as a blizzard on Monday shut down most everything in the city except for our conference. As usual, one of the highlights of the meeting was the District VIII legislative meeting held the Sunday morning before the CLC started. More than 50 Fellows and Junior Fellows attended and participated in a lively and informative discussion of the hot-button issues in state legislatures in our district. 

Susan M. Lemagie, MD, District VIII chair, started the meeting with an inspiring talk about the importance of advocacy in women’s health. Then, Kathryn Moore, ACOG state legislative and regulatory affairs director, and Kate Vlach, ACOG state legislative and regulatory affairs manager, gave a great overview of important issues at the state level. Kathryn and Kate are tremendous resources, and we encourage anyone with a question about state legislative issues to contact them for assistance at stateleg@acog.org.             

Eve Espey, MD, MPH, and Robert H. Palmer Jr, MD, District VIII vice chair, led a discussion about perinatal collaboratives. The New Mexico Section sponsored a bill in its state to provide funding to establish a collaborative. Its efforts were unsuccessful, but the bill will be reintroduced next year. If you don’t have a collaborative in your state, consider starting one!

Laura T. Mercer, MD, District VIII Junior Fellow chair, Steven C. Holt, MD, Colorado Section vice chair, and Judith M. Kimelman, MD, immediate past Washington Section chair, shared their experiences with dense breast legislation—a challenging topic that has the potential to cause a lot of anxiety for patients, increased work and risk for providers, and significant added cost without any proven benefit. 

Dr. Espey, Kate Vlach, and Aaron M. Lazorwitz, MD, led a spirited conversation on reproductive health issues. The New Mexico Section has worked successfully with its state’s Medicaid program to provide coverage of long-acting reversible contraceptives, both the device and insertion fee, for patients in the hospital following delivery. If you are interested in working on this issue in your state, contact Dr. Espey at eespey@salud.unm.edu for more information.

Stella M. Dantas, MD, District VIII secretary, and Greigh I. Hirata, MD, Hawaii Section vice chair, gave an update on ongoing issues with home births. The Oregon Section has partnered with patients and other advocacy groups to pass legislation for reasonable regulation and oversight of home births.      

The highlight of the entire session was the instructional video, “Lobbying: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” by the Washington Section. Starring Dr. Kimelman and Judith A. Jacobsen, MD, Washington Section chair, the video is informative and entertaining. It’s great tool for sections to use at their meetings or lobby days.

Most of the District VIII sections have a designated section Junior Fellow legislative chair position, with all sections excited about spearheading legislative developments and activities within their section as joint Fellow and Junior Fellow efforts. As legislative advocacy is now a CREOG learning objective, it’s exciting to see more enthusiasm for Junior Fellows to become involved with advocacy activities.

Among the legislative activity goals for District VIII is for each section to organize a state or province lobby (or legislative) day. Congratulations to the Hawaii and Colorado sections for hosting their first lobby days in 2014! The Arizona, New Mexico, and Washington sections have also been active in organizing similar events. We hope that even more states will organize a lobby day for 2015.

Additional and alternative legislative activity goals for individual sections of District VIII include communicating and meeting with legislators apart from designated lobby days, letter-writing campaigns to legislators throughout the year, and ongoing sponsorship and support for Fellows and Junior Fellows to attend the CLC and State Legislative Roundtable conference. We look forward to supporting and working with you all as you work towards these goals!