Winter 2020 Issue
D. Nicole Deal, MD
Warm greetings to all VOS members and their families. I hope this message finds you all healthy and well. As we enter the winter season typically filled with family gatherings, basketball, skiing, and bonfires, I am again reminded of these strange and difficult times and am thankful as always for our VOS family.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the legislature has been busy in 2020. This year, the top issue for the physician community was surprise/balance billing and out-of-network coverage. Lawmakers and the media focused on certain instances of patients who went to in-network emergency rooms and later received unexpected and sometimes high (“surprise”) bills from out-of-network providers who are contracted by the in-network hospital. These providers were made to seem like the “bad guys” when in fact they had to make the difficult decision to remain out of network because of unfair health plan practices. Working together with the hospitals and patient advocates, we were able to educate lawmakers about this issue and defeat the health plans’ legislation that would have prohibited balance billing and forced providers to accept their in-network rate. The 2021 legislative session will be here before we know it and most likely presented in virtual format. We expect the state budget and COVID-19 to remain the top issues. We at VOS will work on determining our legislative focus for 2021 and as always, advocating for our members and patients is our top priority.
We will continue to advocate for significant reform of Certificate of Public Need (COPN). Through our continued efforts, Governor Northam’s administration has indicated that they will work on significant COPN reform in 2021 and Governor Northam has hired a mediation firm to begin work on the issue. It is our goal that this process will finally put the pressure on the hospitals to come to the table and compromise on necessary reforms to COPN. I want to thank our lobbyists, Lauren Schmitt and Cal Whitehead for working on behalf of the VOS and keeping us updated with legislative happenings. Some additional issues currently in the legislature involve ensuring payment for telemedicine, supporting anti-price gouging measures for physician practices purchasing PPE, healthcare provider immunity from wrongful death lawsuits from COVID-19 due to lack of resources, ensuring visitation for isolated patients in nursing homes or hospice facilities, and timely release of COVID-19 outbreak information to the public. Two measures defeated during this session were reducing the number of years of full-time clinical experience a nurse practitioner must have to be eligible to practice without a written or electronic practice agreement from five years to two years and administration of flu vaccines by dentists.
As always, our lobbyists ensure that VOS has a voice in these discussions. Your membership dues fund VOS’s work around legislative issues, website resources, newsletters, advocacy alerts, and representation at the AAOS Board of Councilors. VOS members receive discounted registration fees for the annual meeting and special access to members-only benefits such as the member directory and find a doc web page. Please remember to donate to the VOS Ortho PAC HERE to help support these measures and help us keep working for you.
VOS cares about you, your practice, and your patients. Together, we can advance medicine in Virginia and influence outcomes on the national level. Please take a moment to visit vos.org and renew/complete the membership application online. I thank you for your continued support of the VOS.
Whether through our actions or through our financial support, we have a voice in Richmond, as long as we pursue it. We will continue to have updates from Richmond throughout the year from our highly respected lobbyists, Lauren Schmitt and Cal Whitehead. This society is the voice of your practice and I invite you to contact us if there are any issues that are affecting your practice or the care of your orthopaedic patients. Of course, maintaining our ability to be there for you is dependent on maintaining a strong society with an equally strong Political Action Committee.
Please, take a moment to make sure your membership is up to date with the VOS and, if a new surgeon joins your practice or relocates from out of state, please invite them to join VOS. Also, please support our Virginia Political Action Committee (ORTHO-PAC). Links for both membership and the ORTHO-PAC are on the VOS website.
Moving forward, plans are falling into place for a Virtual Annual Meeting, April 30-May 1, 2021 and we hope you will plan to join us for a robust meeting with opportunities for learning.
Thank you for all you do for the orthopaedic patients in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If there is anything we can do here at the Society to support you, please do not hesitate to contact us.
April 30 - May 1, 2021
Please visit our website at vos.org for updates as they become available.