A Time to Reflect and Look Forward
By Maurice Oakley, MD, 2017/18 KMA President
They say the older you get, the faster the time goes.
Well, I’m not one to reveal my age, but it would be safe for you to assume that time is passing very quickly for me these days. It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since I was installed as the 167th President of the Kentucky Medical Association.
With this being my last message, I wanted to take the time to reflect on what a journey this has been, and to leave the membership with some encouragement for the future, as I believe it to be very bright.
Not to bring up my age again, but when I began my career as a physician, times were very different. Not only was the outlook and treatment for certain health conditions a far cry from what they are today, but the business of medicine was different as well. Can you imagine not having to get a prior authorization for a procedure?! Or being able to apologize to a patient when an outcome was not what they had hoped…without fearing the repercussions of such an act?!
But that’s why membership in the KMA is so important. Not because we want to rewind the clock, but because we want to continuously move medicine forward. And thanks to the work of the Association and its members, I think we took several steps in the right direction.
KMA developed its AIM for Better Care: Administrative Improvements in Medicine initiative, which seeks to reduce or eliminate barriers to patient care in five areas where Kentucky lags behind the rest of the nation: smoking, drug abuse, obesity, diabetes and flu/pneumonia. KMA has already begun tackling several of these issues, most notably influenza, with its Focus on Flu public health campaign. I am also looking forward to hearing from participants in the Kentucky Physicians Leadership Institute, who will be dissecting many of the barriers to these conditions as part of the Kentucky Physicians’ Leadership Academy at the 2018 KMA Annual Meeting this week.
2018 was also a successful year for KMA legislatively. Thanks to the work of our advocacy team and many members, we were able to secure peer review protections, credentialing reform, and reimbursement for telehealth utilization.
Advocacy comes in many forms though, and I was also pleased that KMA took swift action against Anthem’s detrimental modifier 25 policy at the beginning of this year. The January 5 op-ed published in the Lexington Herald-Leader received a lot of attention, and between that piece and the pressure applied by our members and other organizations, Anthem announced it was rescinding the policy on February 26. As I wrote in my President’s Message in March, that decision was yet another “win” for Kentucky physicians and patients!
However, much work remains to be done. While the Association was able to lobby successfully for medical review panels in 2016, that law is currently being challenged, and was heard by the Kentucky Supreme Court two weeks ago. Kentucky remains one of the only states in the country without meaningful tort reform, and that certainly presents a threat to the practice of medicine in the Commonwealth. It will only be through the unified voice of the KMA that I believe we will be able to accomplish this.
I’d like to thank the KMA staff for all their help this year, as well as the 7,000-plus members of the Association for the opportunity to serve as your President. I know my successor, Bruce Scott, M.D., will continue carrying the torch for medicine as President, and my hope is that as many physicians as possible will join him and continue to be engaged with our work. With time flying by so quickly, it’s imperative that we never let up fighting for physicians and patients in Kentucky.
Maurice J. Oakley, M.D.
2017-18 KMA President