From KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo
If there is one thing Americans can agree on, it is that we cannot finish election season soon enough. Layering local, state, and presidential politics on a year charged with so many divisive and difficult issues has added to overall exhaustion for most, and lack of interest in civic engagement for many. It can be hard to distinguish where to begin, who to support, and if it matters. While your vote is a personal decision, it also affects your profession and your patients — and it does matter.
In the coming state legislative session, elected officials will consider issues affecting liability protections, medical malpractice coverage requirements, whether or not non-physicians are allowed to practice medicine, and more.
The Kansas Medical Society does not endorse candidates for office, but we do research every state legislative race, and the Kansas Medical Society political action committee, KaMPAC, uses contributions from Kansas physicians to support legislative candidates that will help us ensure that the environment in which you practice medicine is the best it can possibly be.
Thankfully, one week from today, the commercials and mailers will cease and politics will settle back into a less prominent role in our collective consciousness and personal lives. But the work of advocating to our elected leaders on behalf of Kansas physicians goes on every single day, in each season and cycle — and that is why the Kansas Medical Society exists.
Advocating for you necessarily involves working with our elected leaders to promote the best possible environment in which to practice medicine and ensure patient access to the highest quality of care. The names on the ballot and those elected to serve in Topeka and Washington, D.C., change over time, but the advocacy work of the Kansas Medical Society continues as it has for the past 160 years, and is improved when we work with like-minded leaders.
And if you haven’t done so already, VOTE!
FDA approves remdesivir as treatment for COVID-19
On Oct. 22, the FDA approved the antiviral drug remdesivir as a treatment for patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization. While the treatment was previously authorized by the FDA for emergency use to treat COVID-19, it is now the first and only approved COVID-19 treatment in the United States. The FDA reports that the treatment cut the time to recovery by five days — from 15 days to 10 on average — in a large study. The FDA also issued a new emergency-use authorization for remdesivir to treat hospitalized pediatric patients under age 12 who weigh enough to receive an intravenous drug. Read the FDA’s full announcement here.
Kansas issues COVID-19 vaccination plan
Last week, the state of Kansas submitted its draft vaccine plan to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The 45-page document publicly outlines its strategy for the first time. The document describes who will get the vaccine first and how health officials will distribute doses across the states. Doctors, nurses, and other health care workers will be first. Then those at high-risk, such as the elderly and people with chronic conditions, along with frontline workers, like law enforcement and other first responders. Then the vaccine will become available to the general public.
Of note, the vaccine will be free, but recipients (or their insurance company) may be asked to pay an administrative fee, likely less than $20. However, no one can be denied a vaccine based on the ability to pay. Some vaccines in development will require a second dose, likely taken three weeks to a month after the first.
KMS Advocacy Day update
The 2021 Kansas Medical Society Advocacy Day & Annual Meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 27.
Our goal for the event is to update you on the latest advocacy efforts and connect you with legislative leadership and your local representatives. A dozen medical specialty society chapters are also partnering with KMS in the event.
Advocacy matters, this year perhaps more than any other.
Kansas legislators will be present in the Statehouse in 2021
to conduct the legislative session,
and as always, it is critical that legislators hear from you directly
about issues affecting the practice of medicine.
We plan to conduct the meeting in a manner consistent with Shawnee County and state guidance,
taking necessary precautions and ensuring social distancing among participants.
For the safety of attendees, these are among the precautions to be taken at Advocacy Day:
- We plan to schedule smaller groups of attendees in a number of shifts, according to specialty society affiliation, instead of having one large mass gathering.
- Meeting rooms will be thoroughly sanitized between shifts, following CDC recommendations.
- Meeting rooms will be limited to 10-20% capacity in order to maximize social distancing. Seating will be arranged for one attendee per table, each positioned such that all attendees are at least 6 feet apart.
- Masks will be required for all attendees, pursuant to Shawnee County ordinance.
- Personal hand sanitizer bottles will be provided for each attendee at their own table.
- Food and other beverages will be available as single servings to avoid attendees congregating in one area.
Each shift of attendees will receive a legislative update in the large KMS/KAMMCO conference center from KMS Executive Director Rachelle Colombo and have an opportunity to ask questions and discuss issues. Attendees will also meet with their specialty society. The small-group shift of attendees will then transition three blocks to the Statehouse in several large shuttles—allowing ventilation and adequate social distancing—to meet with legislative leadership as well as their local representatives. Then the next small-group shift will arrive to the KMS/KAMMCO conference center.
KMS believes the physician community can set a positive example of how organizations can conduct such events safely and responsibly. We hope you will make plans to join your peers from across the state to network and learn how our collective advocacy shapes the practice of medicine in Kansas. Find more information and registration here: www.kmsonline.org/AdvocacyDay.
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