KMA Wraps 2023 Session with Win for Physician Wellness; Other Priorities Advance
By Amber Laflin, KMA Director of Governance and Policy Analyst
The 2023 General Assembly wrapped up the 30-day “short session” on Thursday, March 30. Although House and Senate leadership initially hinted at the possibility of a scaled-back session, legislators ultimately passed over 180 new laws and resolutions, including several bills that generated a great deal of controversy. However, thanks to the advocacy efforts of members, KMA was able to successfully advance priority bills this session and lay the groundwork for future advocacy efforts on a number of issues.
KMA Priority Issues
Enhancing Physician Wellness
Physicians and other healthcare workers have an increased risk of experiencing burnout due to the demanding nature of their work. However, they are less likely to request and receive help for mental health issues due to the stigma associated with seeking treatment for themselves within the medical field. Senate Bill 12, sponsored by Sen. Donald Douglas, M.D., encourages physicians to seek care when needed through a wellness program and ensures that a record of a physician’s participation in such a program is confidential and has additional legal protections. In testimony before House and Senate Committees, KMA Vice President Evelyn Montgomery Jones, M.D., and KMA Past President Shawn Jones, M.D., highlighted the importance of helping physicians deal with job-related burnout without fear of retaliation. The bill passed unanimously out of both chambers and was immediately signed by the governor. The passage of this legislation is an important step in KMA’s overall efforts to improve physician well-being and address workforce issues in the state.
Prior Authorization Exemption
House Bill 134, sponsored by Rep. Kim Moser, would have established a prior authorization exemption program designed to automatically waive prior authorization requirements if a physician has historically been approved for a specific procedure/service at least 90 percent of the time. A prior authorization exemption program would ensure patients have timely access to the care they need, reduce administrative burdens for physicians, and lower healthcare costs. The bill easily passed the House Health Services Committee, thanks to the testimony of KMA President Monalisa Tailor, M.D. Despite the nearly unanimous consensus among lawmakers that prior authorization reform is desperately needed, the bill was ultimately recommitted to the House Banking and Insurance Committee for further consideration due to concerns over the potential cost of such reforms, especially to the Medicaid program. Although the bill did not pass the General Assembly this session, streamlining and reforming prior authorization will continue to be a major focus of KMA’s advocacy efforts throughout 2023 and into the 2024 session.
Scope of Practice
Each year during the legislative session, various non-physician groups introduce legislation to increase their scope of practice in the state. KMA has successfully defended against the multi-year effort by the Kentucky Association of Nurse Practitioners and Nurse-Midwives (KANPNM) to phase out the CAPA-CS (Collaborative Agreement for Advanced Practice Registered Nurse’s Prescriptive Authority for Controlled Substances). Following five months of negotiations, an agreement was reached this year on Senate Bill 94, that consistent with KMA policy, preserves the physician-led, team-based care model. KMA Legislative Chair Donald Swikert, M.D., led the efforts to ensure that the legislation strengthened the CAPA-CS, increased meaningful collaboration between APRNs and collaborating physicians, and provided the appropriate safeguards for public health. While an agreement has been reached on this issue, many other scope of practice bills are anticipated in future legislative sessions. KMA encourages members to remain engaged on such issues to ensure the practice of medicine and patients are protected. KMA’s “KY Physicians Care” campaign continues to educate legislators and the public on the importance of the physician-led, team-based care model. More information on this effort is available at kyphysicianscare.com.
Advocacy in Action
More than 90 physicians and medical students from across Kentucky gathered in Frankfort on February 22 to advocate for their practice and their patients as part of the 2023 KMA Physicians’ Day at the Capitol (PDAC). In addition to the advocacy efforts at PDAC, KMA members were highly active on the grassroots level this session through compelling testimony at committee hearings, legislative visits, and messages sent through the KMA Action Center. KMA greatly appreciates the collective efforts of members to advance the priorities of physicians and patients across the Commonwealth.
For a more in-depth look at other bills of interest during the legislative session, including legislation related to transgender care, medicinal cannabis, and more, be sure to watch for the full 2023 Advocacy in Action Achievement Report which will be made available to members in the coming weeks.