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LMS President’s Message – February 2020

LMS President’s Message, February, 2020
Your Influence Makes a Difference
By Mamata Majmundar, MD

This year Physicians’ Day at the Capitol will take place on Thursday, February 6th, a month into the start of the 2020 legislative session (click here to register). The session is a time when lawmakers convene to discuss issues for the purpose of forming policy. There are several KMA legislative priorities which include public health, public safety, and access to care.

Tobacco cessation will once again be a top KMA priority during the 2020 session. This session KMA supports three bills focused on tobacco cessation: 1) e-cigarette/vaping excise tax 2) raising the level of funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs 3) T21 legislation a bill by Senator Ralph Alvarado, to change state law to comply with the federal statute with additional language removing certain penalties that could be brought against youth who violate the 21 rule. 

E-Cig/Vaping Device Excise Tax Legislation: This will impose a 27.5 percent excise tax on e-cigarettes. Coalition for Smoke Free Tomorrow reported E-cigarette use among youth in Kentucky nearly doubled for students in the 6th and 8th grades, and more than doubled for 10th and 12th graders, from 2016 to 2018.

Sufficient Funding for Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Programs: Legislation that would raise the level of funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs from $3.8M to $10M.

T21 legislation: Congress recently passed “Tobacco 21” legislation making it illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product to anyone under the age of 21. All states must comply with the new federal mandate regarding minimum purchase age (21). Sen. Ralph Alvarado’s bill at the state level would remove any conflicting state statute language and take additional steps removing certain penalties that could be brought against youth who violate the 21 rule. 

Additional notable healthcare related bills filled this session include:

  • Surprise Billing (HB179): puts in place a payment formula that insurers must pay to out of network providers for these services and prohibits providers from balance billing patients for out of network services. 
  • Marijuana (HB136 / HCR5): HB136 would permit physicians to recommend marijuana for medicinal purposes. HCR5 calls on federal government to do more extensive research on any medicinal benefits of marijuana prior to the Commonwealth legalizing for such purposes. 
  • Conversion Therapy (HB199 / SB85): prohibits practice of conversion therapy. 
  • Vision Testing (HB206): requiring anyone applying for an initial operator’s license or renewal or initial instructional permit to submit to vision testing. 
  • Firearm Storage (SB32): criminal penalties for individuals who unlawfully store firearms. 
  • Insulin Costs (HB12 / SB23 / SB69): caps copays for insulin to $100.00 per month.
  • Paid Leave for Live Organ Donation (HB46): any individual who donates an organ will receive paid medical leave and tax benefits. 
  • Mental Health First Aid Training (HB153): program to train professionals and public to assist individuals who may have or may be developing a mental health disorder, a substance use disorder, or who may be experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis. 
  • Maternal Health (HB138)

Physicians play an important role to communicate and educate their lawmakers about issues that affect them the most. You can use your voice to advocate for an issue you care about and lead to provide sustainable change.

Mamata Majmundar, MD