by Debra Parsons, MD, FACP, President, Colorado Medical Society
Featured in the January/February 2019 Colorado Medicine.
The midterm election is over and the results are in. Democrats hold narrow leads in both the Colorado House and Senate and the executive branch is exclusively blue, led by newly elected governor Jared Polis and lieutenant governor Dianne Primavera. Legislators are now preparing to convene the 72nd Regular Session of the Colorado General Assembly on Jan. 4.
The physicians of Colorado face a multitude of anticipated challenges in the 2019 legislative session and we expect other attacks on the practice of medicine. In terms of health policy politics, the sheer volume of complex and interrelated issues is mind-boggling. The top challenges identified by the CMS lobby team include but are not limited to:
- Preservation of Colorado’s medical professional liability climate;
- Reenactment of the body of law governing professional review and the Medical Practices Act, as well as assuring the operational integrity and resources for the Colorado Medical Board;
- Preservation of the state-enacted insurance exchange and enhancing aspects of the Medicaid expansion to make the program more attractive to physicians;
- State investments in opioid use disorder intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation infrastructure;
- Health care price transparency;
- Collaborating with the employer community on cost mitigation strategies; and
- Scope of practice issues.
Leading up to the election, COMPAC, on behalf of the Colorado Medical Society, methodically engaged in hot-spot candidate races, either in defense of friendly incumbents or by taking a chance on a pro-medicine candidate as determined by physicians in his or her district. As a result, we saw 94 percent of COMPAC-endorsed candidates elected. CMS is one of the few organizations that endorses candidates from both sides of the aisle in virtually equal numbers.
Additionally, CMS councils, committees, work groups and task forces, which include physician subject-matter experts, are thoroughly examining policy issues, gathering data and discussing solutions.
The nature of this legislative session fits well with CMS’s time-tested strategy of engaging not only legislators but also other stakeholders. From the right, state business leaders, led by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce and other employer advocates, have put together a comprehensive package of cost and pricing transparency and accountability measures. From the left, lawyers that sue physicians will ask for new levels of accountability and transparency in terms of medical professional liability and discipline. Sharp differences will emerge over health care infrastructure investment, especially regarding funding challenges for addressing the opioid crisis as well as the debate over Medicaid spending, coverage and eligibility.
CMS will continue to rely on diverse member involvement in work groups and task forces to advise the board of directors and Council on Legislation. Our member polling reflects the full political spectrum, which further verifies the value and importance of a governance model that relies on extensive grassroots interaction for policy development. CMS’s legislative strategy reflects a pragmatic, evidence-based approach to providing those policy options.
Once again, my ask of you is to prepare to engage in this public policy space; reach out and support each other and bring your ideas, wisdom and concerns to us. Support COMPAC and the Small Donor Committee by contributing online at www.cms.org/contribute. Get to know your legislators and tell them the stories about practicing medicine that only you can tell. It is through active engagements that medicine will fare well in the 2019 legislature.