Patient physician partnership announced

by News-Democrat & Leader

The Patient Physician Partnership was announced at a press conference in the state capitol as an effort by the Kentucky Medical Association and its partners to address the state’s physician workforce shortage and its negative effects on the healthcare delivery system. The genesis for the Partnership was the recently released study conducted by the Kentucky Institute of Medicine, which confirmed the current physician shortage. The independent report revealed that Kentucky needs 2,300 more doctors just to meet national standards.

Commenting on the Partnership, KMA President Thomas K. Slabaugh, Sr., MD, said, “The unique partnership between patients and their physicians is at the foundation of every quality healthcare decision. It’s a relationship based on trust, patient comfort, and an assurance that your doctor will continue to be there to meet your families’ healthcare needs. The Patient Physician Partnership is designed to address that problem.â€?

The Partnership’s five point plan includes the following solutions:

� Ease health insurance burdens on families and physicians.

� Increase support for Kentucky’s medical schools and rural residency programs.

� Reject predatory lawsuits by passing common sense medical liability reform.

� Safeguard our seniors by improving Medicare and Medicaid funding for physician care.

� Ensure quality of care by keeping physicians as leaders of each healthcare delivery team.

Representatives Bob M. DeWeese, MD, also attended the press conference, and said they would introduce legislation that would ease health insurance burdens on families and physicians. Known as the Patient Physician Partnership Act of 2008, their bill would, among other things, allow parents to keep dependent children 25 years and younger on their health insurance policies.

It would also require health insurance providers to devote a majority of premiums directly to patient care. Not included in the legislation, but noted as an emphasis for the Partnership to ease health insurance burdens, is the continued development of a statewide, voluntary e-health system.

Also attending the press conference were organizations that support all or portions of the Patient Physician Partnership proposal. Emery A. Wilson, MD, a director with the Kentucky Institute of Medicine outlined the results of the Physician Workforce Study, and urged legislators and community leaders to address these problems.

KMA State Legislative Chairman, Preston P. Nunnelley, MD, discussed the importance of giving Kentucky citizens the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment for liability reform. He said, “Kentucky’s medical liability system is broken, threatens patient access to care, and drives up health insurance costs. We must follow the lead of our neighboring states and reform our medical liability system if we are going to keep the best and brightest physicians in our state to provide our citizens the care they deserve.â€?

Dr. Nunnelley also discussed the need for Congress to fix the flawed formula that determines Medicare funding sent to Kentucky by the federal government to provide for physician care. Dr. Nunnelley said, “If Congress doesn’t act, thousands of seniors may lose access to their doctor because physicians will no longer be able to participate in the program.â€?

Finally, KMA representatives urged state legislators to maintain trained and certified physicians as leaders of every healthcare delivery team and opposing efforts that would permit non-physicians to practice medicine in our state. They emphasized this could dramatically impact the quality of care Kentuckians receive.

It is believed these five solutions will move Kentucky in a direction that improves our state’s healthcare system, while also working to combat the rising cost of health insurance. Most importantly, the plan is designed to ensure access to care in every community, by establishing a physician workforce that improves the health and well-being for all our citizens.
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