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Sitting at the Table

Pasternak_Andy-200x300By Andy Pasternak, M.D., WCMS President
We are approaching the home stretch for this session of  the Nevada Legislature. The last few months have been an  eye-opening experience for me. I’ve been involved with organized medicine for a number of years, this is the first time I’ve been involved with the NSMA legislative core group meetings from the get-go.

The committee has been meeting weekly to review the bills that may affect our patients and how we practice medicine. Staring with over 200 bills, the list is narrowing down. Our legislative team, lead by Catherine O’Mara, has targeted 30-40 bills as priorities and are following them closely in Carson City (I’m thinking for the next session, we need to budget for a pair of roller skates to help them get from session to session)

A few highlights:

AB 474 is Governor Sandoval’s bill to address Nevada’s public health crisis with narcotic prescriptions . The bill is going to establish new regulations affecting how we prescribe narcotic pain medications. Since attending the Governor’s Forum on Prescription Narcotics in Las Vegas last August, it’s been interesting to watch how the bill has improved over time, especially with NSMA input. Ultimately, this bill will make providers think a bit more if narcotics are necessary for a patient’s care and if so, how many pills to prescribe.

Another topic drawing a lot of our attention has been a couple of bills that focus on how insurance companies pay physicians for out-of- network services. This is of particular interest for emergency room physicians as well as for more hospital-based specialties.

What has struck me more than anything is that at the state level, our legislators do hear our voices. They may not always agree with us, but through our membership and contributions to our PACs, our voices are heard. Despite national skepticism about politics, I have been impressed: When we have honest conversations with our legislators of how these bills will affect our patients and our community, they have been willing to listen. I’ve been impressed by our legislative team who are listening to the legislators concerns and strive to propose solutions that address the underlying problems for all.

And for me personally, as someone who is always looking for help at ultramarathons, I was very happy to see Senator Joe “Doc” Hardy’s bill allowing physicians from out of state to volunteer at athletic events!

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