The primary focus for all physicians is the ability to provide quality care to patients. Access to care, for both insured and uninsured patients, is an ongoing issue that presents itself in the legislature in a variety of ways. Healthcare policy issues are numerous, diverse, and shaped by all branches of government. The LSMS continually advocates on behalf of physicians on the following issues:
- Preserving the Integrity of the Practice of Medicine
- Protecting patient safety by ensuring the right professional is providing the right care permitted by his or her education, training, and skills
- Protecting the Cap - Medical Liability Insurance
- Ensuring an adequate healthcare workforce
- Stabilizing Louisiana’s Medicaid Program by Engaging Providers
- Ensuring fair and transparent insurance markets for patients, employers, and physicians
- Reducing red tape, regulations, and the hassle factor
- Making Medicaid Sustainable
Preserving the Integrity of the Practice of Medicine
Physicians are the best advocates for their patients. LSMS works tirelessly to defend physician-led medicine because the knowledge, skills and experience that fully trained physicians offer is unequalled. Ensuring that health care professionals’ scope of practice is reflective of the training and education they have is essential to protecting the lives of adults and children from unsafe medical practices.
Protecting patient safety by ensuring the right professional is providing the right care permitted by his or her education, training, and skills
Now, and in the future, physicians and other professionals will practice in teams to provide comprehensive patient care. Nevertheless, these patient-focused teams must be physician-led to ensure quality, continuity, and efficiency in care. The LSMS strongly opposes any efforts to expand scope of practice beyond what is safely permitted by non-physician practitioners’ education, training, and skills.
Protecting the Cap - Medical Liability Insurance
Solidifying the legislature’s authority to establish a cap in order to provide stability to the medical malpractice system assures Louisiana’s health care providers that they will be able to get insurance and continue to practice medicine in the state. The Louisiana Supreme Court ruling that the legislature has sole authority to establish a cap was instrumental in working toward maintaining private and public health care costs. We already have a shortage of physicians in Louisiana. Without this limit on damages for medical liability actions, we have no chance of attracting new doctors or retaining the doctors we do have.
Ensuring an adequate healthcare workforce
It’s no secret that Louisiana does not have enough physicians to meet demand. To address this shortage, it is critical that Louisiana ensures stable, state support for a physician’s education and training to help cultivate future generations of Louisiana physicians. In turn, this ensures stable access to healthcare for the citizens of this state. The LSMS believes we need to support physician-led healthcare teams that can safely meet the diverse needs of the state’s population.
Stabilizing Louisiana’s Medicaid Program by Engaging Providers
Physicians want to continue to care for the most needy and, many times, the sickest patients. Over the past six years, physicians who care for Medicaid patients have seen reimbursement rates cut by 15 to 45 percent, depending on specialty. Physicians are critical to Louisiana’s healthcare system if it is to be cost-effective. Otherwise, the state’s efforts to increase preventive care, improve medically necessary treatment for the chronically ill, and reduce inappropriate emergency department utilization will falter. State leaders must realize that cutting physicians’ payments is not an effective tool for controlling healthcare costs and often exacerbates the cost of care.
Ensuring fair and transparent insurance markets for patients, employers, and physicians
The LSMS continues to advocate for fair contracting in the regulated insurance market. It is imperative that the Society continue to fight against efforts to interfere with the physicians’ right to contract and protect the right of physicians to seek payment for the services they render. The LSMS also works hard to provide more standardization when dealing with health plans, such as standardizing the prior authorization forms for prescription drugs. We believe strongly that as the hassle factor is decreased and physicians can spend more time treating patients, overall outcomes improve.
Reducing red tape, regulations, and the hassle factor
We need legislative solutions to cut through the red tape, regulations, and other unproductive elements that do nothing to improve quality and everything to interfere with physicians’ ability to practice medicine efficiently and effectively.
Physician manpower shortages, increasing practice business costs, and lower reimbursement rates are forcing physicians to make tough decisions. If patients cannot find physicians to provide the care they need, their only alternative will be the hospital emergency room and costs will skyrocket. In time, not only Medicaid patients, but even privately insured patients will have difficulty finding a physician and will be forced to absorb indirect costs associated with an inefficient health care system.
Making Medicaid Sustainable
The Healthy Louisiana Medicaid program is broken and its serious design flaws should be addressed.
Simply expanding Medicaid eligibility to individuals with income levels at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level added thousands of patients into a system plagued with inefficiency and facing regular budget shortfalls. This strategy is impractical and unconscionable. Our duty is to address lingering issues hindering the Healthy Louisiana program to ensure adequate access and promote healthier outcomes for Louisiana’s most vulnerable patients.
The LSMS continues to advocate for a Medicaid program that:
• Provides Medicaid recipients with access to quality healthcare,
• Provides reasonable and timely payments to physicians who provide Medicaid services
• Relies on funding sources that are dedicated and stable, thereby allowing the program to remain fiscally sound and sustainable even in times when the state of Louisiana is facing budget deficits.
• Contains choices for patients, i.e. traditional insurance plans, managed care plans, benefit payment schedule plans, and purchasing pools to enable individuals to benefit from group rate premiums.
• Does not discriminate against any physician specialty.
• Provides incentives such as small business tax breaks, limited malpractice caps, or other non-reimbursement incentives for physicians who accept Medicaid patients.
• Provides complete financial transparency so taxpayers can easily determine if their dollars are being used in a manner that maximizes access to quality care.
The members of the LSMS are confident that state leaders and lawmakers — with input from patients, healthcare providers, employers, taxpayers, and others — can develop comprehensive solutions that are beneficial for patients and taxpayers. Louisiana has a unique opportunity to provide its most vulnerable patients with access to quality health care and the LSMS stands at the ready, as it has since 1878, to assist the administration and lawmakers during this most challenging time.