October 2, 2019

Over the past month, I have had the opportunity of attending the Maine Medical Association (MMA) annual session and the Council of New England State Medical Societies meeting.

The MMA meeting featured Maine Governor Janet Mills and her senior health care leadership team (including former MMA EVP Gordon Smith) presenting issues about Maine’s health care system, including the opioid crisis, rural medicine concerns and Maine’s ACA marketplace exchange. There was also a panel discussion with physicians, residents and medical students discussing leadership roles, advocacy and how they incorporated it into their busy lives. I enjoyed hearing how these leaders are dealing with similar challenges to our state in differing ways.

Another historic Women in Medicine moment occurred at the Council of New England States Medical Societies (CNESMS) meeting. All of the presidents or past presidents presenting the individual state reports were women! One of the council members, who has been at these meetings for at least 34 years, remarked that this was the first time that this had ever happened.

Maine, Massachusetts and Connecticut all reported that their states have legislation to remove religious exemptions to vaccination in their states. A few of the states reported physician wellness initiatives as priorities for their medical societies as well. Other topics that were discussed included prior authorization and strategies to address the need to focus on the insurers “practicing” medicine and “patients over paper” initiatives. One concern that particularly was interesting to me is the idea of issuing “gold cards” for providers who are proven to follow best practice or have their specific PAs approved regularly to allow them to not have to pass on further prior authorizations. It was noted that this “gold card” concept may actually make the prior authorization process easier for insurers and everything going forward will require a prior authorization review.

As part of the CNESMS meeting, the New England Delegation to the AMA also holds discussions focused on resolutions to be brought to the AMA. A resolution to ban flavors, including menthol and mint, in combustible and electronic cigarettes and other nicotine products was brought forward by a pediatrician from Massachusetts. Another resolution asked the AMA to study the retraining of International Medical Graduates who would like to practice in the United States. Both of these brought on discussions mostly regarding language, but were approved by the New England Delegation members.

I have enjoyed meeting with members from the other New England States over the past year to compare and collaborate on initiatives we are all working on.

Regards,

Tessa Lafortune-Greenberg, MD
NHMS President

Please send comments or questions to tlafortune187@outlook.com.