Public health, access to care, practice issues top 2023 agenda
By Jake Torrie
ISMA Health Policy Analyst

  Jake Torrie
ISMA Health Policy Analyst 

The Indiana General Assembly is scheduled to begin its 2023 legislative session on Monday, Jan. 9. The ISMA Government Relations (GR) team is already hard at work preparing for the upcoming session, with many health and physician-related issues expected to be considered by the General Assembly once it convenes. The GR team has already begun meeting with legislators to discuss the upcoming issues and to secure bill authors for ISMA’s priorities. ISMA will be advocating for several legislative matters during the upcoming session, including budgetary requests needed to bolster public health and regulatory and transparency initiatives intended to preserve the medical profession and strengthen patient safety.

Support for public health
The 2023 legislative session falls in a budget year, as the General Assembly is constitutionally required to pass a biennial state budget during odd-numbered years. Expected to be at the top of the governor’s budget requests this session is funding for the public health infrastructure recommendations from the Governor’s Public Health Commission. This fall, the commission released its findings on the status of public health in Indiana and its recommendations for how the state can work to improve the overall health of Hoosiers. The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the shortcomings of the current public health system. Significant budget requests will be made to provide much-needed support to local units that have struggled to address public health disparities in their areas. The funds will be used to better equip local health departments and county health officials with the necessary resources to support their populations.

During last summer’s special legislative session, legislators expressed increased support for resources to support infant and maternal health. ISMA will work with members of the General Assembly to support expanded access to contraceptives and maternal health resources. 

ISMA will continue its longstanding effort to increase the cigarette tax to $2 per pack and create parity of taxation for other nicotine products. ISMA will also advocate for revision of current statutes related to HIV and hepatitis, as many existing laws have not been updated in several decades. These much-needed revisions will bring Indiana statutes in line with current medical best practices and, ultimately, help curb the social stigma surrounding the diseases.

Access to care, physician workforce
Addressing the current physician workforce shortage is high on ISMA’s list of legislative priorities for 2023. ISMA will seek increased funding to expand graduate medical education (GME) to help create additional residency positions. Statistics show that residents tend to practice medicine in the state in which they completed residency, so creating additional residency slots will help keep more physicians in Indiana. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently required the state of Indiana to equalize provider reimbursement rates across all of its Medicaid programs. One way to accomplish this is for the state to reduce reimbursement rates for HIP 2.0 and increase rates for the other Medicaid programs. However, ISMA and other affected stakeholders will advocate for additional funding in the state budget to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for all Medicaid programs to Medicare rates.
Insurance and regulatory issues, transparency, scope of practice
ISMA will seek to protect the physician-patient relationship by opposing any measures that would establish criminal punishments for physicians who provide abortion services in good faith. Further, ISMA will seek to give the Medical Licensing Board discretion over the appropriate licensure action for physicians who are found to be in violation of the newly established abortion statutes, should the Indiana Supreme Court uphold the law.

A proposal to reduce the volume and complexity of prior authorization has also garnered wide support from ISMA and many of its health care industry partners. A large group of stakeholders has come together and intends to introduce and support legislation to create a pilot program that would waive prior authorization requirements for a select list of the most approved codes across the health care industry.
Efforts to increase health care transparency and patient safety through physician and health care provider identification and physician information advertising will also be pursued during the 2023 session. So that patients can easily and accurately determine the qualifications of the individual providing their care, ISMA will seek legislation that would require identification badges to be worn by physicians and nonphysician practitioners in appropriate clinical settings. The badges would display the person’s name, license type and employment status. Regarding the advertising of physician information, ISMA will seek legislation that would require all nonphysician practitioners practicing under a collaborative agreement in an office-based setting to clearly display their collaborating physician’s name, credentials and contact information in common areas and online.

Finally, ISMA plans to introduce legislation to ensure physician involvement in emergency departments by requiring the onsite presence of a physician with training in emergency medicine in every emergency department.

Advocacy Day is March 15
Mark your calendars now to attend ISMA’s 2023 Physician Advocacy Day, which will take place on Wednesday, March 15, at the Indiana State Capitol. This is a great opportunity for us as physicians to meet with legislators, learn about the legislative process and advocate for ourselves and our patients at the Statehouse. More details regarding the day’s schedule will be shared as we get closer to the date. 

Renew membership to stay informed
If you have not already renewed your ISMA membership for 2023, submitting your dues by Jan. 15 will ensure that you continue to receive ISMA publications such as Legislative News, as well as legislative calls to action during the session. If you are part of a practice receiving a group discount, your practice administrator will take care of your renewal. Payment may be mailed back to ISMA with your dues statement or submitted online at Contact Vicki Riley at 317-454-7735 with any questions.

You can also keep up with ISMA’s advocacy through The Clinic podcast here and wherever you listen to podcasts.