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Washoe County Medical Society

Riding the Blue Wave

Healthcare on the Legislative Docket We need to rally as one strong voice

The elections are over and now the real work begins, the collective work of the WCMS Government Affairs Commission (GAC), CCMS GAC, and NSMA GAC in conjunction with local and state PACs accurately assessed the outcomes of the elections with contributions and endorsements in all but one race throughout the state. For the first time in twenty years we have a Democrat Governor, Senate and House with Keith Pickard’s seat being contested possibly yielding a supermajority, although doubtfully needed.

We wholly expect this year to be another major healthcare session, as they all are now. Last session a bill passed, but ultimately vetoed by Governor Sandoval, that would have been very unfavorable to physicians seeking payment for services rendered provided to patients out of network (balance billing). This exact bill, virtually verbatim, has already been submitted as a bill draft request (BDR) for this session.

The leadership of WCMS and CCMS who are actively involved in the executive leadership of the NSMA have been meeting monthly with executive leaders of the Nevada Hospital Association (NHA) for over a year as part of a joint NSMA/NHA Balance Billing Task Force defining collaborative principles, attending legislative working groups and educating legislators about the linkage to network adequacy and contractual implications, reviewing model bill drafts and creating our own draft language, and strengthening ties for other important future collaborations.

Speaking of which, another serious threat facing healthcare providers in Nevada is tort reform. While most of us view this as a constant nagging concern, please be warned. The threat is now real. It might not come up until next session, but this will be part of the blue wave agenda. It is public record that the Nevada trial lawyer PAC gave large contributions to Governor-elect Sisolak’s campaign, among many other prominent government leaders. So, my friends, Keep Our Doctors In Nevada (KODIN) will almost certainly be challenged.

Sorry for the doom and gloom, but fear drives action and I am pleading with you to act. If you have read this far, then you are interested in the future of the practice of medicine in Nevada. Here is my plea. Make it your goal to recruit just one new member this year, maybe someone new to your practice, new to the hospital lounge, new referrer you discuss cases with, someone you think would like the stimulation and engagement. If not for political purposes, then for social gatherings and friendship, and if that doesn’t work use guilt. How could they not want to support their colleagues, people they depend upon every day, people they take themselves and their loved ones to see when they are sick? We need numbers. Sure, we need money, but more importantly we need to show unity. We need to be able to sit at the table and say we are here representing over three quarters of the physicians and this will not work. For anyone who nay-says the organization, please let them know that AB474, the Governor’s opioid law, was slated to be much more restrictive and that through the very hard work of our leaders was made workable. Furthermore, it has been sculpted in regulations and is set for revisions to be made more reasonable to physician practice patterns and workflow. This unfortunate, but necessary societal checkpoint, has been developed with input from our leadership. If we were not at the table, it would have been much, much worse. Just look to some of the other states in our Union (Kentucky limits opioids to a three-day supply) If we do not grow in number, demonstrate collective unity in public healthcare policy, then medicine and our patients in Nevada will suffer.