Greetings fellow Missouri PAs:
As we draw near the end of 2012, I feel it’s important to send out some information and updates from MOAPA. After the 2012 Missouri Legislative session ended in May without us successfully passing our legislation, it was time to start preparing for 2013. One of the main areas that we have focused on since the end of the 2012 session was working to garner support from many of the physician groups in Missouri and communicating with them what our goals are as a profession and that we can reach those goals and still maintain a physician-led team approach to patient care. So far, our efforts have been very successful and we are hoping that this will result in a positive outcome in 2013. More details on this are below.
Also, in review of 2012, our July CME Conference in Branson was again very well attended as well as financially successful for our organization. The CME industry has experienced many changes over the past several years making conferences increasingly difficult to be financially successful due to a decrease in pharmaceutical financial support for speakers, displaying, etc., but with attention paid by our CME Committee to prudent decreases in costs while still maintaining the usual high standards for the event, we were able to make this an income generator for our state organization.
So again, as 2012 comes to an end I want to give some info on current issues as well as what we are looking forward to in 2013.
We are introducing a bill, probably in early to mid-January, addressing the current onsite supervision requirements under which we practice. Again, we have been working with several physician groups to draft language that will relax the onsite supervision requirement but still maintain a level of supervision that the physician groups feel are adequate to provide patient safety and responsible practice standards. Specific language has not been fully drafted at this writing but when a bill is filed and given a number, this will be communicated to make sure everyone is aware of what we are attempting to pass this coming session. I cannot express the importance of this legislation to our profession. Even if the current supervision requirements do not impact your current job, this is still extremely important to the progression of our profession and the ability of Missouri to attract PAs to practice in our state and help provide for the healthcare needs of the citizens of Missouri. So this coming legislative session CANNOT be ignored by ANY Missouri PA, MOAPA member or not!!!
In addition to legislation addressing supervision, we will also introduce legislation requesting that PAs be recognized as Missouri Medicaid providers. I, along with our lobbyist, Jorgen Schlemeier, met with the leaders from MO Medicaid and it was requested that we approach this issue through the legislature so that is our plan. To clear up any confusion, PAs are not currently identified as MO Medicaid providers but that does not mean that PAs cannot be reimbursed for services provided by a PA on a patient who is covered under MO Medicaid. It just needs to be billed under the supervising physician. So therefore, the reimbursement is not different than other non-physician providers. This issue has, however, caused confusion with potential employers so that PAs have been passed over for jobs due to this provider status so we felt this to be something that needed to be addressed and changed. The plan is for this to be in a separate bill than the one I discussed above, but again, bill numbers and specifics will be provided when available.
In preparation for the legislative session, we are planning something new. We are planning to host a "Legislative Boot Camp" starting in St. Louis first and other areas if possible. We are planning to have this in January 2013, possibly January 26th, but the date is not confirmed yet. This will be a short conference, a few hours. We will have a speaker from AAPA discussing general PA advocacy as well as giving us a national perspective and update with all of the possible healthcare changes and how this could impact us. Also, Jorgen Schlemeier will help us better understand the process that we will encounter in Jefferson City getting our legislation passed. We will have a current state legislator present to speak on effective communication with your legislator. I know I have had people intimidated reaching out to the state members of congress so this talk will be designed to pull the curtain back from that part of the process to help everyone become more comfortable reaching out to communicate directly with legislators. Plans are that this will be held at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and will be free of charge. We will also inquire about the possibility of qualifying for Category II CME. We are planning to lock this in within the next week or two so please, make an effort to attend this very important conference. This has been successful in other states so it seemed like a great idea to bring this to Missouri especially leading into this vital legislative session. More info is coming soon.
CME 2013 Plans
As mentioned above, the 2012 conference was again a great success and ran very smoothly as it always has under the great leadership of our "experienced" CME Committee. Well, the 2012 CME marked the last year for the current CME Committee who ran this conference for well more than a decade. They requested this to be their last conference and as much as we would have loved to hold them hostage to continue, we had to thank them infinitely for the service and hard work they provided over the years and move forward to find others who would be willing to step up and keep the tradition going. Spearheading the new CME Committee will be:
They are fully committed to maintaining the high standards of this conference along with new ideas that will attempt to freshen the conference to give it a new energy. Please take a few minutes to mark your calendars for the 2013 conference July 18-21, 2013. In an effort to maintain affordability, the conference will still be held at the Radisson Hotel in Branson. If you are willing to give a clinical lecture or know anyone who is willing to speak at the conference, please reach out to Meredith Cunningham and let her know. Finding qualified and affordable speakers is very difficult, so we need to help each other with this task. Please do your part to help make this conference as successful as possible. You can email Meredith at email@example.com with speaker names and topics.
Membership is something that we continue to work on as a Board. Clearly, the most effective and efficient way to communicate all that we are trying to do in order to progress our profession is to have all 700-plus PAs in Missouri be members of MOAPA. In addition to the communication piece, membership is still one of two sources of income to MOAPA. Membership proceeds in addition to those from the Summer CME are needed in order to keep MOAPA financially solvent and able to work for the continued success and progression of our profession. So, in addition to legislation, membership remains a main piece of this Board’s agenda and we are requesting your help with this as well. Please maintain your membership as well as have direct conversations with your colleagues about membership. If they have questions about membership that you cannot answer, refer them to any Board member and we will be glad to discuss membership benefits with them.
Board of Directors Updates
We have had some recent changes to our Board about which I feel it is important to inform everyone. For personal reasons, Meredith Cunningham resigned from her President-Elect position. She will continue to be part of the CME Committee planning the 2013 conference but felt strongly she should place herself in a position which allows her to focus on the conference rather than feel the split between becoming President in July in addition to heading the CME Committee. Therefore, the President-Elect position is currently vacant. If anyone out there is really wanting to jump right into the "deep end" and fill this vacancy, please contact me directly and we can discuss it and I can address duties and responsibilities. Since I have been President for many years now, some new blood and a new voice might be nice for the organization. So if your curiosity about this is at all piqued by this, please drop me a line or call me and we can talk about it.
In addition to this change, we have also had a change in one of the Director at Large positions. Due to an increase in family responsibilities, Karen Leuenberger found it necessary to resign from her position as Northwest Director at Large. Since her resignation I appointed Greg Stafford to this position. Greg has previous experience on the MOAPA Board from a few years ago and is very motivated to help energize the NW Region.
On a more general note about being a Board member and what it takes, if you have ever had the feeling that you want to do more for the profession but are not sure how, consider becoming a Board member. Each position has its own responsibilities but you may be surprised that the time it requires may not be at all what you thought it would be. You don't need to have previous Board experience, you don't need legislative experience, what you need is a desire to get involved and work to continually improve this organization and our profession in Missouri. That is it!!! I had no legislative experience but just learned by observation and a desire to work to make things better and not just continue to stand on the sideline and complain about why things are not the way they should be or at least better than they are. It was time for me to get into the game and be a part of the process of making these things that we complain about better. So if you have any of these feelings tugging at you, just reach out to me or any Board member and inquire about it and really see what it is all about. This is an organization for PAs run and surviving by the work of PAs, and again, new blood and new energy for any organization is a good thing. Feel free to contact me by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 314-374-8033.
Well, I think I have taken up enough of your time with this update that I hope you found helpful. I struggle with not doing more frequent newsletters like this but I know in our lives we get so many emails about so many things that I tend to try and save things up and communicate them when I feel there is new or timely information. Please know that the relatively few emails I send out are not a reflection of the work that really is in continual process for the improvement and progression of the climate for PAs in Missouri. I am always available to answer questions or help problem solve for any PA who has specific needs. So, if you find yourself with a specific need or question, never hesitate to reach out to me or any Board member and we will do our best to help answer your question or help solve any issue that you may have. Thanks for reading and know that more information about our legislative plans and bill numbers as well as information about contacting your legislators will be forthcoming.