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What Are the Top Pennsylvania Health Care Issues to Watch in 2017? A Preview of What’s Ahead

A new Pennsylvania legislative session has arrived, and many health care-related bills are sure to be introduced in the months to come. What should physicians expect from the 2017-2018 session?

On Jan. 11, 2017, the Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) held an interactive webinar to discuss some of the major health care issues we expect to rise to the forefront in 2017. Here are a few highlights:

  • Preservation of physicians' clinical autonomy will remain a PAMED priority—"We'll continue to oppose legislative efforts that may jeopardize patient care, erode clinical autonomy, and diminish the physician's role as leader of the patient's health care team," said PAMED's Executive Vice President Marty Raniowski. Legislation that allows CRNPs to practice independently in Pa. is expected to be introduced again this session, and PAMED will continue to oppose such legislation.
     
  • PAMED Will Work to Advance Key Health Care Priorities—These five issues are among several priorities for PAMED this session:

Telemedicine—If properly regulated, telemedicine has the potential to improve patient access to care and enable physicians to consult with colleagues remotely. PAMED wants to ensure that telemedicine services are reimbursed and considered the same as face-to-face patient encounters and that the physician-patient relationship is maintained
 

Prior Authorization—The current process is onerous and time-consuming for both physicians and their staff. PAMED will work to advance legislation that streamlines the process and makes it more transparent and uniform across insurers.
 

Insurer Credentialing for Physicians—PAMED will advocate for a quicker, more streamlined credentialing process that would enable qualified physicians to see patients sooner.
 

Pennsylvania Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)—PAMED and a large group of stakeholders are looking to put the POLST program back on the map so that patients can use the forms to provide physicians with their requests regarding life-sustaining treatment. Learn more about POLST here

Opioid Abuse Crisis: The opioid abuse crisis continues to impact every county in the state, and more legislation to address the crisis is anticipated. PAMED will advocate to ensure that any legislation takes a commonsense approach that allows physicians to determine the best course of action for patients. Learn more about PAMED's "Opioids for Pain: Be Smart. Be Safe. Be Sure." initiative here.
 

PAMED will also continue to advocate on a number of national issues, such as much-needed Maintenance of Certification (MOC) reform. Learn more about PAMED's efforts here.

What's the Bottom Line?

There are many health care bills introduced in Pa. over the course of a legislative session. Last session, PAMED tracked approximately 450 health care bills.

And, while a large number of health care bills are introduced each session, none of the state's current 253 legislators are physicians. PAMED and its member physicians will be there during Pennsylvania's 2017-2018 session, to monitor all of the bills that may impact physicians and to make certain that physicians have the opportunity to help shape that legislation.

Find out about how you can participate in grassroots advocacy networks in your own community by contacting Katie Thiemann, director of the Pennsylvania Medical Political Action Committee (PAMPAC) and grassroots advocacy at kthiemann@pamedsoc.org or 855-PAMED4U (855-726-3348).

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