New Players, Same Game Plan

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POSTED IN: EPIC - The Official Newsletter of MOCEP, July/August 2018,

Following the August primary, we know there will be 50+ new state representatives due to term limits and resignations.  This upcoming, larger than normal, turnover in the legislature was overshadowed by the big blockbuster saga of the year – a new Governor in the absence of a gubernatorial election year.  Eric Greitens resigned and Mike Parson was sworn in.

As I have said many times before, mostly quoting others in Jefferson City politics, “So what does that mean to me?” (or us, in this case). It means that while we have new players, our advocacy and involvement in the process does not change a bit. In the first few weeks of the new administration, we experienced some decisions that we opposed, including the 90% fee-for-service reimbursement rule and the Stroke and STEMI designation funding veto.

The Governor, through this action, of course, did not mean to end that program, however, that is how it was perceived. I believe we are back on track, thanks to participation from other partners in this fight, notably the Missouri Hospital Association. We remain committed to overturn the 90% rule, which states that if you serve a managed care Medicaid patient, and do not have a contract with that patient’s carrier, then the carrier by state contract can ONLY pay you 90% of the fee-for-service rate. Bad idea!  This needs to be changed, and I am confident that we can get resolution on this item as well.

Really what all this means, is that government needs your continued monitoring and interaction. Getting to know your legislator when you are called into the Capitol to advocate for one of our key issues, on which you need them to act immediately, is the wrong recipe for success. Completing A to Z of advocacy in one step won’t work. In comparison, you don’t go to medical school as soon as you are called into the emergency department to help a patient.  You are prepared so that, when called, you are ready. Replicate your readiness in the emergency department to impact the system that can impact your practice the most: the legislature.

How?  Refresher course. January to mid-May, the legislature is in session, and therefore in Jefferson City from Monday – Thursday. On Friday they are catching up on their real jobs. Establish a relationship by attending a coffee or fundraiser they hold during the interim and inviting them to your place of work to educate them about our issues. This allows you to only need a few minutes of their jammed packed day during session when you want to convey action on a piece of legislation. In fact, an email or phone call will often suffice if you have laid the ground work during the interim.  Right now, and I mean right now, is the perfect time to seek out your legislator and get to know them , as they are running for re-election and likely have a tough race. Go get two yard signs, attend one of their functions, and ask what help they need.  Do those three things, and I guarantee a relationship will be established. It does not mean they will vote with you on any certain issue, but you want the opportunity to make your case.

That is enough summer homework. Enjoy your family and friends, travel, relax, and of course – get to know your legislator!