The 2020 Regular Session of the Kentucky General Assembly convenes on Tuesday, Jan. 7. Legislators will meet for 60 legislative days and must pass a two-year budget. KMA expects discussion and debate on bills to begin very quickly once legislators convene. Public pensions will likely dominate the budget discussions, but other items, including Medicaid funding, will receive a lot of attention as well. KMA will monitor the budget process closely to ensure that a “provider tax” is not considered as a revenue option.
Public health will be a central focus for KMA, with support for the removal of prior authorization for MAT therapies, greater coverage for opioid alternatives, an excise tax on e-cigarettes and vaping devices, increased tobacco prevention and cessation funding and, rounding out the top of the Association’s list, a Tobacco 21 bill that would raise the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. Public safety will also be a priority, with a focus on deceptive “bad drug” advertising. Access to care issues will be addressed as well, including surprise billing, co-pay accumulator prohibition and an insulin co-pay cap.
Members are asked to ensure they are receiving KMA’s weekly Legislative Alerts, which are distributed via email each Tuesday during session. A free text alert system is also available, which communicates the latest developments from Frankfort via text message. Members can sign up for text alerts by simply texting “KMA” to 50457. The 2020 Physicians’ Day at the Capitol will be held on Feb. 6, 2020. Additional details, as well as registration information, will be available soon.
KMA hopes its legislative efforts will be bolstered by the launch of a new website designed to solicit feedback from physicians and patients on roadblocks they have experienced to care.
AIMforBetterCare.com serves as an outlet for both patients and physicians to share their stories of cost increases, delays and denials. KMA will then use submissions to assist in advocacy and education efforts to improve upon or eliminate such issues.
AIMforBetterCare.com is particularly interested in stories from individuals suffering from some of the state’s most pressing health issues, which include obesity, smoking, drug abuse, diabetes and flu/pneumonia.
“These are the five areas where Kentuckians fall behind the rest of the nation, and we feel we have an opportunity to really improve public health through a combination of legislation, policy changes and greater awareness,” said KMA President Brent Wright, M.D.
The AIM for Better Care initiative was launched in 2017 after it was brought to the attention of KMA by member physicians and patients that cessation services for tobacco were not covered under all insurance plans. KMA advocated for and helped pass legislation, Senate Bill 89, that today provides comprehensive smoking cessation coverage through insurance to Kentuckians.
Dr. Wright is encouraged by the results received from the website so far. “While we hate that there are so many obstacles present in our healthcare system, we are so grateful to our fellow physicians and patients for sharing this information with us, because it will ultimately help us improve the future of care in Kentucky.”