Advocacy in Action
A big part of the day to day work of the NHMS is advocacy work for the betterment of NH physicians and our patients. Most of this work involves advocacy at the state level, and as many of you know the Medical Society is well regarded and respected across the political spectrum throughout our state government.
However, the Medical Society also does a fair amount of advocacy work at the federal level, both through our relationship with the American Medical Association (AMA), as well as our ongoing relationships with all four of our national congressional representatives from the Granite State.
This past week was a particularly busy one for the Medical Society, interacting with our U.S. Congressional delegation. We started the week in Washington, DC, for the AMA National Advocacy Conference, where I was joined by Bill Kassler, MD, our NH AMA delegate, Travis Harker, MD, our NH AMA alternate delegate (and both past NHMS presidents), and Jim Potter, our Executive Vice President.
Some of the hot topics for the AMA this year are improving the prior authorization process, addressing so-called ‘surprise billing’ when patients receive potentially large bills after receiving, unknown to the patient, services that were out of network for their insurance plan, some fixes to the 2015 MACRA legislation, and finding ways to more sustainably fund treatment of substance use disorders. After briefings on the topics and some discussion of the current state of legislative efforts from the AMA, we met with staffers from all four of our U.S. Congressional delegates, and had substantive and broad ranging conversations with staff from Representatives Kuster and Pappas’ offices, as well as senior staff working for Senators Shaheen and Hassan. Senator Hassan was able to sit in for part of the conversation and re-iterated her support for physicians and patients in NH. We even ran into Bill Nye (the science guy!) in the hallway of the Cannon House Office Building and were able to thank him for his work on advocacy for supporting vaccination as a public health imperative.
We finished the week by sponsoring Senator Jeanne Shaheen at the Medical Society office in Concord for a town hall forum on health care last Friday. I had the privilege of introducing the Senator and she gave some brief comments regarding the Affordable Care Act and preserving affordable, quality health care for all Americans, as well as where she saw some areas for possible bipartisan agreement around the price of prescription drugs and medical devices. She then took questions from the crowd, which was comprised of a standing room only group representing various patient advocacy organizations from around the state. It was a wide-ranging discussion of health care issues that are impacting Granite State citizens, for which there may be some federal support as well as our local NH solutions, including rural health care issues, continuing to support the Medicaid program and Medicaid expansion, and paid family and medical leave.
My take away after this amazing week of advocacy at the federal level is that there are many issues we are working on that are on the radar at both the state and federal level, and that the Medical Society remains as focused and engaged as ever at both levels to improve the lives of Granite State physicians and your patients.
John Klunk, MD
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