The American College of Surgeons awarded the Wisconsin Surgical Society an Advocacy Grant in order to support and sponsor surgeon participation in the medical lobby day at the Wisconsin State Capital known as Doctor Day. I am pleased to announce 15 WSS members participated in Doctor Day on February 10th. In prior years there were few WSS participants in this important legislative day. The current WSS President, Mike Garren, MD, FACS; the Past-President Dr. Rod Malinowski; and the Chair of the WSS Policy Planning and Government Relations Committee Amy Liepert, MD, FACS were among attendee’s this year’s event. There was representation from both private practice and academic centers and from urban and rural practices. See below for the complete list of participants.
Doctor Day is important as it gives legislators and their staffs the opportunity to interact with physicians from throughout the state. This allows relationships to both be initiated as well as cultivated. As healthcare is such a large and important part of not only the state economy but also its legislative make-up, it is important that physicians act as educators and liaisons to our elected officials. For the house of surgery it is also important to ensure that surgical patients and surgical infrastructure is not overlooked. As one of the highest cost sections of healthcare we must be at the table to ensure the important care that is necessary for our patients continues to be available in a reliable and sensible manner.
All health related legislative issues do not directly impact surgical care. However, some proposed legislation can have a direct impact on surgery and its care delivery, even if it is not immediately obvious. Additionally, frequent attacks on scope of practice occur within the state legislature that could have profound adverse effects on the patients of Wisconsin. One example discussed this year was Assembly Bill 549 that would allow Physical Therapists to order X-rays even independent of physician oversight. This was opposed by the participants of Doctor Day. Also discussed is a bill just starting to be circulated, LB 3787, that moves to expand pharmaceutical prescribing rights to chiropractors. This was also opposed by participants of Doctor Day even though that bill is just in the very beginning of the legislative process.
Participating in Doctor Day is not about a one-time appearance. It is a foundation upon which relationships are built with local legislators. It is those local relationships that become important when legislation is introduced that is either beneficial, or sometimes detrimental, to patient care. It remains unusual for legislators to have a background or work history in a health care related field, and therefore, they require advisement from experts within the field. But, even within the world of medicine differences of opinions are common – particularly amongst differing specialist groups. Therefore it is imperative that surgeons are involved in the legislative process.
This year the 15 WSS attendees included 6 surgical residents representing 3 of our 4 state residency programs: Laruen Taylor MD (UW), Christina Lee, MD (UW), Chrissy Papageorge, MD (UW), Nick Coorough, MD (Gundersen), Nick Czosynka, MD (Gundersen), and Rachel Landisch (MCW). WSS members included: Buzz Boren, MD; Mike Garren, MD; Sig Gundersen, MD; Amy Liepert, MD; Rod Malinowski, MD; Tracy McCall, MD; Alexander Wade, MD; Neel Karne, MD; and Peter Nettleman, MD. These surgeons were from 10 different institutions from throughout the state. Additionally, we were honored to have ACS State Liaison Tera Leystra from the ACS Washington DC office join us. In addition to the scheduled Doctor Day events the WSS held a morning breakfast breakout session and a private WSS dinner. These sessions allowed for discussion of surgically related topics as well as networking and sharing of common surgical interests and concerns. Potential surgical policy issues that may be pursued in the future include: obesity-related surgery coverage for state employees, trauma system funding, and protection of video recording in the operating room.
Doctor Day 2017 is scheduled for March 28, 2017.
If you are interested in more information regarding Surgical or Healthcare Related Advocacy please contact, Amy Liepert, MD Chair of the WSS Policy Planning and Government Relations Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org