Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator
Physicians honor attorney general, hear from legislators
COMPAC, the political action committee of the Colorado Medical Society, held its annual luncheon during the 2017 CMS Annual Meeting. Mark B. Johnson, MD, COMPAC chair, moderated the event. The lunch began with a special award presented to Attorney General Cynthia Coffman for her role in the legal challenge to block the merger of two of Colorado’s dominant health plans. “It takes a special kind of moral – not merely political resolve and courage – to pick a legal fight of this magnitude,” Johnson said. “Our attorney general stepped up when the odds were against us and the stakes unimaginably high.”
This award honors a public official who understands by words and deeds the true meaning of advocacy, Johnson said. It was accepted on behalf of Coffman by Alissa Gardenswartz, deputy attorney general for consumer protection.
Gardenswartz extended the attorney general’s gratitude for the honor and spoke about her section’s work. “This case exemplifies the importance of our antitrust enforcement when it comes to consumer protection because, really, what more important of an industry to ensure that there is continued fair pricing, continued incentive to innovate than in health care? Those things are necessary to ensure the continued high quality of care for the citizens of Colorado.”
The highlight of the event was a legislative panel with Sen. Don Coram, Sen. Larry Crowder, Sen. Dominick Moreno, Rep. Bob Rankin and Rep. Jonathan Singer. Rep. Brittany Pettersen was unable to speak due to a health issue. The panel spanned rural and urban districts and represented both political parties.
Johnson asked the panel several questions and allowed each legislator to respond. When asked to identify the most pressing health care issue facing the state, all overwhelmingly mentioned health care costs, including the affordability of health care coverage and lack of competition among health insurers.
“Across the political spectrum of state lawmakers – Democrats, Republicans, moderates, urban, rural – we can all agree the most pressing issue is cost. Now that we have agreed on the problem, I look forward to all of us agreeing on a solution,” Singer said.
Another question was about advice legislators would give Colorado physicians to be more effective advocates. The panel encouraged physicians to continue to share knowledge and ideas for health care reform, develop relationships with legislators, and get involved at whatever level of government is desired.
“One thing the medical community can do with the legislature is educate the general public,” Coram said. “The public doesn’t understand medical bills or the cost of malpractice insurance. These are huge items that we can address together to bring these costs down.”
During the business portion of the meeting, Johnson announced that this meeting marked the end of his term as COMPAC chair. Christopher J. Unrein, DO, was approved to serve as chair and Patrick Pevoto, MD, MBA, was nominated to serve as vice-chair.
COMPAC will need support going into 2018 to continue to effect positive change for physicians. To join COMPAC, go to www.cms.org/contribute.