Legislative Updates

From the President

POSTED IN: Legislative Updates,

Douglas Char, MD, FACEP

Some EM colleagues feel exhausted by all the crises we had to deal with recently. Add to this the uncertainty over Medicaid expansion in Missouri, healthcare professional liability and lack of tort reform, ED overcrowding and the fact that we are the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), it’s easy to see why some physicians are cynical. MOCEP has been following these issues and many more, working with other professional organizations to build alliances, and forge relationships that will allow our voices to be heard and hopefully initiate change at the state level. The November election didn’t change many things in Jefferson City. We know where we need to put our attention. MOCEP leadership has also been working with other ACEP chapters to amplify our voice on the national stage.

I attended the Missouri State Medical Association’s Advocacy Training Day on Saturday January 17th with two colleagues (Drs. Daniel Lackey and Lydia Luangruangrong) from St. Louis. Mr. Jim Wilson, American Medical Association – Political Affairs staff, talked at length about the importance of physician involvement in the legislative process. He stressed how a handful of committed individuals really can create change. His comments were echoed by those with legislative experience, change rarely happens quickly. MOCEP have been working to become more responsive and nimble, allowing us to more effectively represent all emergency physicians in Missouri.

More than thirty emergency physicians marched through the state capitol on January 21st, during the 2nd annual MOCEP Advocacy Day. I started the day out by asking each participant to tell the group why they had come to Jefferson City. While thirty is great, it’s a small fraction of the 500+ MOECP members who call Missouri home. Many verbalized a felt a sense of obligation – “if we are not at the table to discuss issues, we will be on the table being feasted on by others”. Many of the younger physicians and residents expressed an interest in learning “how things really work in the legislature”. Rep. Jay Barnes comment that House is sometimes a “Fact Free Zone” generated hearty laughs but also sad, eye-opening recognition that truth and knowledge don’t always carry the day. Hearing from a handful of Representatives and a Senator was instructional and provided some insight into how things are likely to play out this coming legislative season. They also made it clear that our voices and presence in Jefferson City really does matter.

MOCEP’s Education Day and General Membership Meeting will take place on April 18th in Kansas City in conjunction with the Missouri State Medical Association Annual Conference. Please give yourself the gift of knowledge, camaraderie and professional development by joining us that weekend. Consider it a down payment on your professional well-being and welfare.