2022 KMA Legislative Preview: Building on Success
By Cory Meadows, KMA Deputy EVP/Director of Advocacy & Emily Schott, KMA Director of Communications
The 2022 session of the Kentucky General Assembly officially kicks off on Tuesday, Jan. 4. As with all even-numbered years, the session will last for 60 days and legislators will be busy passing the state’s biennium budget, which will be bolstered by millions of dollars provided to the Commonwealth through the American Rescue Plan Act, as well as working on decennial census redistricting. While that certainly makes for a lot of ground to be covered, KMA is prepared to ensure the voices of physicians and patients are heard in 2022.
This year’s session follows a historically successful 2021 session, during which the KMA saw five priority issues become law. Such issues included telehealth expansion, mental health parity, co-pay accumulator, prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment, and COVID-19 liability protections.
For a full recap, members are encouraged to review the KMA 2021 Advocacy in Action Achievement Report, available at kyma.org/advocacy, which outlines each of the bills that passed, along with additional healthcare-related legislation.
KMA has since been working with members and leaders to develop a list of legislative priorities for 2022 and will focus its efforts in four key areas: prior authorization exemption, information blocking, healthcare workforce, and lung health.
Prior Authorization Exemption
Prior authorization of health care services continues to be a burden and a barrier to physicians providing the care their patients need. KMA supports legislation that requires health benefit plan issuers to “gold card” certain physicians from prior authorization by creating an automatic approval or exemption, on a physician-by-physician basis, that waives prior authorization requirements if that physician is approved for a specific procedure/service most of the time.
Pursuant to the 21st Century Cures Act, providers must deliver complete and immediate data to patients in a common language that can be used with apps and other EMRs. As a result, patients will be able to view results often before providers see them. Barring a permissible exception, failure to provide such data is considered “information blocking” and can result in fines. One permissible exception allows providers to block information when the information will cause physical harm to the patient. State-based legislation is needed that allows providers to temporarily delay the delivery of certain patient test/lab results if providers believe the receipt of such results by the patient prior to provider counseling would cause emotional harm.
Healthcare workforce shortage issues have plagued our state for years, which have been exacerbated by COVID. KMA will work with relevant stakeholders, including the Kentucky Hospital Association, and members of the Kentucky General Assembly to address the issue with long-term policy solutions. KMA efforts will specifically focus on initiatives that raise awareness regarding physician wellness and career fatigue, provide financial incentives to attract and retain physicians to the Commonwealth, and address the state’s broken liability system.
Kentucky has long struggled with diseases and illnesses associated with poor lung health, including adult influenza, pneumococcal disease, and cancer. For example, according to the American Lung Association’s 2021 “State of Lung Cancer” report, Kentucky has the highest incidence rate of lung cancer in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also consistently has Kentucky at the top of the list in lung cancer deaths. KMA will promote policy solutions that raise awareness regarding lung health issues and that are designed to improve lung health outcomes for all Kentuckians, especially those who live in underserved areas of the state.
Other Issues of Interest
Additionally, KMA will closely monitor and take appropriate action regarding other issues of interest to the physician community, including scope of practice, marijuana legalization, and vaccination exemptions.
2022 Physicians’ Day at the Capitol
Membership-driven grassroots advocacy will of course be essential to achieving success in Frankfort. After hosting a virtual Advocacy in Action Month in 2021 due to COVID-19, KMA will return to hosting its annual Physicians’ Day at the Capitol event in-person on Feb. 9, 2022. Physicians are encouraged to attend to engage with their legislators and educate them about these and other issues that are important to healthcare. More information and registration for Physicians’ Day is available at https://2022kmapdac.eventbrite.com.
KMA members are also strongly encouraged to sign up for the Association’s Legislative Text Alert service, which will provide the latest updates and developments in Frankfort, by simply texting “KMA” to 50457. As always, a number of impactful healthcare-related issues will be discussed, debated, and voted on during the 2022 session. KMA will be there – as the voice for physicians and their patients– to advocate for policies that promote quality, accessible healthcare and advance the practice of medicine.