A turnout that was even larger than expected helped make Physician Advocacy Day on Jan. 28 an unqualified success.
About 100 physicians and medical students signed up to hear about proposed legislation and meet with legislators to discuss the impact of those bills on health care in Indiana. Many more put on their white coats that day and joined the event, which was organized by ISMA and Indiana’s medical specialty societies at the Statehouse.
“The expertise and perspective we shared with legislators on Physician Advocacy Day is critical to their understanding of how various bills affect our patients and our profession,” said Luke McNamee, ISMA deputy director of policy. “Together, physicians are continuing to drive the future of health care in Indiana.”
Physicians met with dozens of legislators from all four caucuses. Among those were Rep. Todd Huston, speaker-elect of the House; Sen. Rod Bray, Senate president pro-tem; Rep. Donna Schaibley, a key voice in debates on health care issues; and Sen. Victoria Spartz, candidate for Indiana's 5th District congressional seat.
ISMA member Steven R. Young, MD, a cardiac anesthesiologist from Indianapolis, is a longtime physician advocate in Indiana and in Washington, D.C. He keeps at it, he said, “because eventually you make a little bit of a difference, and sometimes that makes a difference.”
Medical cost transparency was among the issues Dr. Young was promoting at the Statehouse. “If patients want to know what the bill is going to be, I think they should be able to know,” he said. “Some patients say, ‘It’s more than I thought’; but, in anesthesiology, we bill by complexity and also by time. I think patients should have the right to, and be able to, see that information.”
Anesthesiologist Corinna J. Yu, MD, Fishers, never thought she would be talking to legislators about health care policy – she assumed that someone else would do it. Then, she said, “I looked around and said to myself, ‘wait – if you’re not contributing, you’re part of the problem.’”
Maintaining physician-led care is Dr. Yu's primary concern. “I think the public, unfortunately, does not know enough about the different levels of training of providers; a lot of lawmakers don’t know either,” she said. “It’s our responsibility and duty as professionals to continue to advocate for our patients and make sure they know the difference and have the right to choose.”
Nykki Boersma, MD, Greensburg, an ISMA member and president of the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians, said connecting with legislators in person is the most important thing physicians can do to make a difference in health care policy.
“Nobody’s going to just call me up and say, ‘Dr. Boersma, I just heard something from a constituent that has me really concerned; can you explain it to me?’” she said. “We need to be present and available and they need to see us, so they will be familiar with who we are.”
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