Maine Medicine Weekly Update - 03/06/2017  (Plain Text Version)

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In this issue:
Lead Article
•  AMA National Advocacy Conference
•  Maine Medicine Weekly Update's New Look & Feel
128th Maine Legislature
•  Weekly MMA Legislative Committee Conference Call Information
•  Legislative Highlights of the Week
•  MMA Legislative Committee Forum on "Death with Dignity" is Next Tuesday, March 14th
•  Physician Assistant - Newcastle
•  Physician Assistant or Nurse Practitioner Hospitalist - Full Time or Per Diem, Bridgton Hospital
•  Family Medicine Physician - Maine Medical Partners Primary Care
•  Primary Care Physician - Eastern Maine Medical Center
•  Family Practice Physician - Machias, Maine
•  Office-Based Treatment of Opioid Dependence Course Offered by American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
•  Family Medicine Physician - Pittsfield, Maine
•  Physician Monmouth
•  FNP/NP Monmouth
•  Outpatient Only - Internal Medicine with Loan Repayment & Sign-on Bonus
•  Part-time Clinical & Part-time Research Position in Central Maine
•  Part-Time MD/DO/NP/PA
•  Maine Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics Spring Meeting
•  Calling All OB-GYN Physicians!
•  DrFirst Offers Presentations on E-Prescribing Mandate
•  Maine Chapter, American College of Surgeons Annual Meeting
•  Maine Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons Spring Educational Program & Business Meeting


AMA National Advocacy Conference

MMA EVP Gordon Smith and President Charles Pattavina, M.D. attended the AMA's annual National Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. last week and met with members of Maine's Congressional Delegation.

The 2017 American Medical Association National Advocacy Conference was held in Washington D.C. Feb. 27 - March 1.   MMA President Charles Pattavina, M.D. attended with EVP Gordon Smith.  Featuring presentations by Mick Eberling, CEO of Not Impossible Labs and Mark Halperin, Editor, author and political analyst, the conference offered a unique opportunity to be in the nation's capital at a time of great uncertainly but informed somewhat by the President's speech to a joint session of Congress on February 28th.  Members of Congress speaking at the conference included Sen. John Barrasso, M.D. (R-Wyoming), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Congressmen Charlie Dent, Kevin Brady and Joseph Crowley.

During the conference, Dr. Pattavina and Mr. Smith were able to meet personally with Senator Collins and King and Congresswoman Pingree.  The advocacy message delivered was that repealing the Affordable Care Act should not be done, if at all, until a full replacement reform bill is ready which protects coverage for those individuals covered under existing law and which continues to move the country toward all individuals being covered.  We also spoke forcefully against the notion of Medicaid block grants although we ackowledged the need for the states to have more flexibility in using Medicaid dollars.  We also articulated that states that did not expand Medicaid eligibility under the ACA should be provided with the federal dollars that were available with expansion.  We also discussed the opioid crisis and what is being done in Maine to address it.  We also supported repealing the unpopular IPAB provision and noted the importance of the Congress re-authorizing the children's CHIP program by September 1st of this year.

Other interesting points that were made by the various speakers and AMA advocacy staff:

  • The atmosphere is D.C. remains toxic and very polarized.  If Democrats remain united against the President's healthcare agenda, it will take only three Republican Senators or a handfull of House Republicans to derail efforts to dismantle what has been built around the ACA.  And for ACA provisions which can not be repealed through Budget Reconciliation, eight Democrats would be needed to support repeal.  Almost no one in Washington sees that as a possibility.  More gridlock is the likely result.
  • With 10,000 Americans becoming eligible EVERY DAY for Medicare, it will be politically impossible for the Republicans to turn Medicare into a premium support or voucher program.  Seniors vote.
  • Repealing the ACA without a solid replacement is like taking off in an airplane without any sound landing plan. (From Rep Charlie Dent, (R-PA). 
  • There was a lot of discussion about the high price of prescription drugs.  Something is likely to happen although the pharmaceutical industry is a very strong lobby and has significance influence among Republicans and in the White House.  Of course, Democrats are not immune from this type of pressure, as well.
  • There were several comments made about improving health care for our nation's veterans and the need to improve and expand the VA Choice law which was not as effective as it might have been despite the $15 billion appropriated for it.
  • The deficit and slow growth rate (2% instead of a more robust 3 to 4%) are dragging down the middle class despite low unemployment and a positive economy.

It is difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish bi-partisan compromise with the nation and the Congress so divided. President Trump and Bernie Sanders, both of whom energized their respective voters, were not even members of the political parties whose nomination they sought one year before they announced.  People want change, but not the same kind of change.  The majority of voters are concerned about their children's future and America's place in the world.  But, we seem destined for more partisan gridlock.  And the jury is still out on the new President.  There are signs of the "good Trump" emerging but clear evidence of the "bad Trump" still being present.  We are likely in for a rocky run over the next few months.  And as uncertainty remains, health care will suffer.