Advocacy is the Cure for the Political Frustrations of 2016
By Bobby Redwood, MD, WACEP President
You don't need me to tell you; 2016 was kind of a rough year. We lost Bowie, Prince, and Princess Leia. Zika cast its shadow over our vacations, while authoritarian regimes thrived, the E.U. frayed, and democracy stumbled. The political tension in America and in Wisconsin reached a fever pitch throughout one of history's most negative presidential campaigns ever and then, on November 9th, republican and democratic physicians alike were left exhausted and confused, wondering what will happen to our patients and our profession under the Trump administration.
Well, we at WACEP implore you: don't despair! Here are some of the (solvable) challenges that we, as emergency physicians, can expect in the upcoming year.
- The Affordable Care Act will likely go away. Will it just be a name change (it was basically RomneyCare after all)? Will the individual mandate be undone leaving a glut of 234,000 uninsured patients in its wake? Will Medicaid really be transformed into a block grant system as many have foreseen?
- The opiate epidemic will continue to challenge our state and our state's physician workforce. Will the new ePDMP provide the accountability and real-time information that we were promised it would? Will the new medical examining board CME help get all providers on the same page in terms of best practices for opiate prescriptions? Will WACEP's opiate prescribing guidelines have the reach and influence that we are hoping they will have?
- Mental health services will evolve...for the better? Suicide is at a 30-year high and fewer than half of the 800,000 Wisconsinites who need mental health treatment actually get professional help. A consensus bill, the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 (S. 2680), passed the Senate HELP committee in March 2016 and will likely come to vote in the Senate this year. If passed, will it deliver the community crisis response systems and increased access to acute psychiatric hospital care that were anticipated? Will the Wisconsin psychiatric bed database come to fruition? Will psychiatric transfers from Wisconsin EDs become easier to facilitate?
Engagement is the way forward. Emergency physicians are problem solvers, and whether your motivated by compassion for your patients, consideration for your physician-group, or simple self-preservation; we at WACEP need you to step forward and engage with your colleagues, so that we can solidify our message, amplify our voice, and help solve the challenges ahead together. Need a roadmap for getting engaged in emergency medicine advocacy? Here are the next steps:
- Register for the March 28th WACEP Spring Symposium. Get the 4-1-1 on emergency medicine advocacy from national ACEP president Rebecca Parker. REGISTER HERE.
- Sign up for the March 29th Doctor Day event at the Capitol. Feel the comradery of your profession as hundreds of physicians swarm the state capitol. REGISTER HERE.
- Attend the March WACEP listening tour in Merrill, WI. Let us know how WACEP can better serve your needs. REGISTER HERE.
- Donate to the WACEP PAC. Since its inception, the WACEP PAC has given emergency physicians unprecedented access to state lawmakers. As our PAC grows, so does our collective voice. DONATE HERE.
- Reach out to your legislators. There is no better cure for political frustration than connecting directly with your lawmakers and making your voice heard.
There is no doubt that the healthcare landscape will be changing in 2017 and we have the power to shape the future of our practices and our specialty. By showing up, by putting our money where our mouth is, by connecting with our peers and our political leaders; emergency physicians can use the same strength and tenacity that we exude in our clinical work to shape the future of emergency medicine in Wisconsin.
Thank you to each and every emergency physician in Wisconsin for your dedication to your patients, colleagues, and profession. Whether you are excited about the Trump shake-up or sense a bad moon rising, now, more than ever, we need physician engagement in local and national advocacy.