by Debra Parsons, MD, FACP, President, Colorado Medical Society
Featured in the March/April 2019 Colorado Medicine.
As the AMA motto proclaims “Membership Moves Medicine,” so it goes for our Colorado Medical Society. We are standing up for you and tackling your hard-hitting priorities just as you directed us to do, and it’s making a difference for our profession and our patients. As a membership organization, the economic and human impact of your belonging to CMS amplifies the voice of Colorado physicians and affords influence on those important issues to our profession and our patients. We can only achieve our mission “to champion health care issues that improve patient care, promote physician professional satisfaction and create healthier communities in Colorado” with your support and it is with gratitude that we thank you for being CMS members.
Two directives from the board of directors’ operational plan instruct leadership to enhance effective decision-making and maximize membership engagement through effective communication. I am proud to say that we are doing this most effectively through Central Line, CMS’s members-only virtual engagement platform, and can demonstrate a concrete example of one member’s idea sparking real legislative change below.
Since Central Line went live in 2017, it has been a game-changer for CMS and has garnered awards and the attention of other associations around the country. As I hope you’re well aware, this revolutionary application allows any CMS member to submit policy proposals or to give input on policy proposals submitted by colleagues, and to give input to the board of directors before and after votes are taken on policy.
In the first year, 11 policy proposals were submitted by CMS physicians across the state through Central Line; more than 1,800 physicians from around the state voted on one or more of these proposals.
In 2018, the second year of Central Line, even more policy proposals were submitted and the number of participating physicians increased. Statewide in 2018, Central Line was used by 1,950 unique CMS members including nearly 300 students, casting a total of more than 9,200 votes on health care policy.
The value of your participation in the Central Line process is that your representative on the CMS board of directors reviews your input on each policy before and after he or she casts a vote at the CMS board meetings. The importance of this, from a policy standpoint, is that all proposals approved by the CMS board of directors have had member input before they become official CMS policy. Some proposals become policy for future action, and other proposals are acted upon right away.
As a concrete example of Central Line’s effectiveness, last November, the CMS Board of Directors adopted a Central Line proposal about mandatory childhood vaccinations. The proposal sought CMS support for legislation to prohibit opt-out exemptions for childhood vaccinations solely for personal or religious reasons, which would prevent parents from putting their children and others at risk by declining recommended vaccines solely on these two reasons.
The mandatory childhood vaccination proposal was adopted with amendments by the board with 91 percent of Central Line participants voicing their support of the board action. In January, a bill sponsor was recruited and legislation was drafted for consideration by the 2019 Colorado General Assembly. CMS has already joined a broad coalition of organizations that advocate for children’s health, and the group will work to support the passage of the bill in 2019.
I encourage all members to continue their involvement in Central Line in 2019. It is through this platform that individual members can affect real change in health care public policy for the good of Colorado.