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Legislative News

Virginia Orthopaedic Surgeons
Name Delegate Kathy Byron
“Legislator of the Year”

By Cal Whitehead
VOS Lobbyist

White Coats on Call

Dr. John Prahinski, Delegate Kathy Byron and Dr. Gautham Gondi meet during White Coats on Call Day, January 30, 2014.

The Virginia Orthopaedic Society (VOS) has honored Delegate Kathy Byron (R-Lynchburg) with the organization’s 2014 “Legislator of the Year” Award. The accolade was announced at the VOS 67th Annual Meeting held May 2-4 in Roanoke, VA.

Delegate Byron’s role in the debate about workers' compensation system reform was noted in the announcement. “Kathy and other key legislators are working to ensure that injured workers continue to receive high quality, accessible workers' compensation care in Virginia,” stated VOS Board member Gautham Gondi, MD, who practices at the Orthopaedic Clinic of Central Virginia, “She understands that good care requires the best doctors and providers in the system.”

During the 2014 General Assembly, insurers and some employers proposed tying workers' compensation provider fees to Medicare rates, but doctors and allies proposed more targeted reforms. Delegate Byron has a reputation as a staunch supporter for business and, based on relationships with physicians in the Lynchburg region, she was also a passionate advocate for maintaining an attractive environment for doctors to care for patients injured on the job. Virginia currently boasts the fourth lowest workers' compensation insurance premiums in the United States and good return-to-work results.

Delegate Byron has represented the 22nd District in the Virginia House of Delegates since being elected in1997. She represents portions of Bedford, Campbell, and Franklin Counties, and the city of Lynchburg. Kathy has been married to Jack Byron since 1974, and has three children and five grandchildren. She is a member of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, VA.

The Virginia Orthopaedic Society works to enhance its members’ ability to provide the highest quality musculoskeletal care possible through education and professional development while championing the interests of physicians and patients through its advocacy efforts.

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Department of Health Professions Holds Public Hearing on Physician-Owned Distributorships (PODs)

The General Assembly ordered the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) to “consider any issues related to the use of implantable medical devices distributed by medical device distributors in which a physician has an ownership interest”.  The DHP held a public hearing on May 20 for stakeholders to review existing federal and state laws as well as any industry and professional opinions on the business model.

This issue arose when K2M, a Loudoun-based spinal implant company, initiated legislation that would have banned PODs.  The VOS and other parties had expressed willingness to work with K2M to explore the existence and prevalence of PODs in Virginia and to contemplate any policies to govern their operation.  K2M insisted that legislation was necessary and introduced the bill without VOS support.

The VOS, the Medical Society of Virginia, and hospitals opposed the legislation that could have stifled innovation and threatened other physician-owned ancillary services.  Legislators agreed with the VOS that legislation and regulation of PODs was premature until there is a credible review of the Virginia landscape.  House Health Welfare & Institutions Committee Chairman Bobby Orrock (R-Caroline County) informed stakeholders that an agency review was a more prudent and appropriate approach.

At the May 20 hearing, orthopaedic surgeons from California and Maryland testified about their experience as physicians with ownership interests in distributorships.  They cited savings and efficiencies in the models and discussed need for full disclosure and transparency.  Manufacturer industry representatives highlighted the 2013 U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) report that discussed the potential conflicts of interest that could lead to overutilization and fraud.  At this time, it is unclear if PODs exist in Virginia or how prevalent they are in the marketplace.

Public comment will be received until June 20, 2014.  Please contact VOS lobbyist Cal Whitehead if you would like to participate in the Department of Health professions review of PODs.  He can be reached at cwhitehead@whiteheadconsulting.net.

OIG Report on PODS
https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-01-11-00660.asp

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