by Omar Mubarak, MD, MBA

Physicians often cite advocacy as a top priority for the Colorado Medical Society and this year, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how pivotal this work is to our members and patients. Given our demanding day jobs, we depend on the commitment of dedicated physicians, staff, and allied experts to navigate the complex political landscape and policy reform. This year, as CMS president, I witnessed this tremendous effort and coordination necessary for effective advocacy. 

This legislative session brought a full-scale onslaught on the top priorities of medicine in a manner not experienced in a generation. And I hope it will be at least another generation before we see another session that requires even a fraction of the expenditure of time and resources. You can read more about the achievements, skillful defense and opportunities for future sessions in the cover story on page 4. I want to share insight into the behind-the-scenes efforts that drove our successes.

I want to give personal thanks to our outstanding contract lobbyists, Jerry Johnson and Dan Jablan, whose esteemed reputations at the Capitol allow us to be the first to hear if a bill that will affect health care policy is on the horizon and serve as a resource to educate elected officials on potential impacts. I also want to thank John Conklin and Amy Cardone, our outside counsels, who analyzed bills for their legal ramifications and also provided expert testimony. And, of course, thanks to our CMS staff – especially Chet Seward and Dean Holzkamp – for their above-and-beyond work on our behalf.

All the physician leaders on our Council on Legislation gave hours of their lives discussing, providing direction and voting on the bills, and respectfully considering the many sides of each issue. These physician leaders represented the county and specialty medical societies that comprise the House of Medicine, and CMS convening such a group amplifies our voice. I’ve heard several times that we lose on issues when we don’t stand together to protect our patients and profession. It’s for this reason that building consensus through the House of Medicine is critical.

I especially want to thank the physicians and staff of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians for their partnership in passing prior authorization reform, which was achieved after a three-year effort that will mean real positive change for patients and practices. And leaders from COPIC, the Colorado Hospital Association and other organizations in Coloradans Protecting Patient Access (CPPA) stood with CMS in safeguarding the stable liability climate and preserving peer review.

It is important for physicians to show up at the Capitol. I watched how individual doctors testifying were what got the votes we needed to advance or kill a bill. I heard Dr. Ricky Dhaliwal testify on a scope of practice issue and safety in the emergency room. Dr. Mark Johnson gave passionate testimony on funding for substance use disorders, drawing from his three decades in public health. Dr. Sean Pauzauskie spoke eloquently on cutting edge technology that held great potential for patients but also has great potential for abuse. I personally sat side by side with my patient to talk about my practice and the care I provide, and how operating in an uncapped liability environment would devastate medicine.

When doctors engage in the political process, it makes a difference. It has been an honor to represent you at the Capitol this session, standing up for patient safety, excellence in care and practice viability. I couldn’t be prouder of us as a profession.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, President's Letter, Resources, Initiatives, Advocacy