Important message from MSV President
10 January 2011
I hope that 2011 is off to a great start for you. As president of the Medical Society of Virginia (MSV), I am writing to update you on the General Assembly session which convenes on Wednesday. The four primary areas of focus for MSV this year include the medical malpractice cap, Medicaid reimbursement, quality of care and scope of practice.
First, since announcing that we reached a long-term agreement on the medical malpractice cap with the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association (VTLA) in November, we have been actively informing members and legislators of this good news. The feedback has been extremely positive and supportive. Legislators are very pleased that after two years of meetings and discussions between VTLA, the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) and MSV, a once-in-a-lifetime agreement was reached. The cap agreement has been introduced as legislation by Del. Albo as House Bill 1459 and by Sens. Saslaw and Norment as Senate Bill 771. These are identical bills that contain the twenty year agreement. MSV and VTLA also agreed that the cap bills will advance as introduced.
Second, I remind you of MSV’s long-held concerns regarding the low level of Medicaid physician reimbursement. Our focus this year centers on the four percent additional provider cuts that will begin on July 1 if the General Assembly does not amend the budget to provide Medicaid with $137 million dollars of new funding. The portion of that needed to avoid cuts to physician reimbursements is $14.7 million. Two possible avenues to obtain these funds are the redirection of spending priorities in the budget or increase in the commonwealth’s revenues per revenue estimates that will be reported in mid-February.
Third, quality of care is always a priority for MSV. We have devoted extensive efforts in the last three years to improving and enhancing the quality and peer review statutes. There is additional work to be done. Some have inquired about the possibility of amending the medical malpractice cap legislation to include further revisions to the quality and peer review statutes. Such an attempt would violate both the letter and spirit of the agreement that we have entered into and would implode the cap agreement. MSV will stand by our agreement and our commitment. Advancement of the cap bills to the governor will enable MSV to work with other stakeholders on additional quality or peer review legislation that may be introduced this General Assembly session and beyond.
Finally, scope of practice legislation is routinely introduced in General Assembly sessions. Many of these scope and related access to care issues are being addressed by Gov. McDonnell’s Virginia Health Reform Initiative in which we had strong physician leadership. In addition, we have had several very positive meetings with the nurse practitioners and are committed to working over the coming summer and fall toward a team-based care model that is based on unity and not independence. We expect legislation to be introduced this year to allow naturopaths to be licensed or to prescribe, which we oppose.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for all that you do for our profession and to remind you that you are the best advocates for medicine in Virginia. The presence of MSV members in white coats at the General Assembly makes an impact, and there is no better adjunct to lobbying efforts than your presence at the General Assembly. Please make it a priority to participate in our White Coats on Call days. Or, if it is best for your schedule, pick a morning that suits you to come to Richmond and join your colleagues and MSV staff in our continuing advocacy efforts on behalf of physicians and patients.
Cynthia C. Romero, M.D., FAAFP