Welcome to the second issue of the Sounding Block

"The Sounding Block," is a new e-mail newsletter that we'll use to keep CMS delegates up-to-date throughout the year, not just at the Annual Meeting. Please contact us about any of the items in this newsletter. Your comments are important to us! 

- CMS Speaker Robert Yakely, MD and Vice-Speaker Brigitta Robinson, MD
1. Highlights from the Jan. 18 Board meeting

The CMS Board of Directors met on Friday, Jan. 18. Here are the highlights.

  • The Board discussed public policy and HOD referrals on topics including Medicaid expansion, prescription drug abuse, firearm safety, hydraulic fracturing, and covenants not to compete. See more information on these items below.
The Board approved minutes from the November 2012 meeting, the Finance Committee report, and a consent calendar. A written update on the strategic plan was provided to the Board in writing. All of these materials are available upon request.
2. Medicaid expansion
Board directs CMS to move forward

In early January, Gov. John Hickenlooper announced that the state will expand Medicaid coverage for adults as called for under the Affordable Care Act. Experts estimate that this would add roughly 160,000 Colorado adults to the program. Based on HOD direction, the Council on Legislation and the Committee on Physician Practice Evolution developed an advocacy position in support of expansion and advocating increased physician reimbursement, liability protections, administrative simplification, and patient responsibility.

CMS polled the membership on this position, asking if CMS is on the right or wrong track. Results from the survey were presented to the board and the board voted to approve the Council on Legislation - Committee on Physician Practice Evolution advocacy position. Click here to view a summary analysis of the survey results and the advocacy position.

3. Prescription drug abuse
Board votes to make issue a priority

The abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. To combat this, the National Governors Association is hosting a yearlong project led by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and our own Gov. John Hickenlooper that directs seven states, including Colorado, to develop and implement comprehensive and coordinated strategies that take advantage of available tools and resources to address this problem.

The board voted for CMS to prioritize this issue and work proactively with the governor and his staff to reduce prescription drug abuse in Colorado to maintain physicians' central role in patient safety and prescribing. The CMS Committee on Workers Compensation and Personal Injury will lead the CMS effort; they held their first meeting on Jan. 17. Click here for more information.

4. Addressing violence in society
Board approves strengthening mental health services

In response to shootings in Aurora and Newtown, the Council on Legislation and the board of directors were tasked with implementing HOD policy on firearm safety. CMS has long recognized firearm violence as a public health crisis.

As it is in line with existing CMS policy expanded by the HOD in 2012, the board voted to support Gov. Hickenlooper's proposal to strengthen Colorado's mental health system in response to firearm violence. The board also voted to support the enactment of "reasonable laws" that seek to regulate the sale and distribution of firearms to protect public health and safety. (Laws will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with recommendations made after analysis.) Click here to read the CMS media release on this subject. Click here to read more background on subject.

5. Hydraulic fracturing
COGCC agrees to release information to physicians

The board adopted a motion from the Council on Legislation that directs CMS to pursue a written explanation from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission stating that COGCC agrees that a physician should have access to specific proprietary or confidential information - above what is available in the public domain - if it is necessary to care for a patient. Further, the written explanation should include a provision to allow a physician to share the information with the patient and other physicians and providers involved in the care of the patient. The purpose is to clarify a COGCC rule detailing trade secret disclosure and procedure for requesting proprietary information.

The original COL recommendation directed CMS to pursue legislation should COGCC not agree to this policy, but meetings with the group indicate that they will comply with our request.

6. Covenants not to compete
Board approves motion to make non-compete clauses unenforceable

The board approved a COL motion to pursue legislation that makes non-compete (liquidated damages) clauses unenforceable in instances when a physician is terminated from an employment contract using the "without-cause" reason for termination. This resolution is the result of a health system's without-cause termination of several physicians and enforcement of the non-compete clause. A special committee of the Board of Directors will continue to study and refine the issue. The HOD will take final action on the Board's recommendation in September. Click here to read more on the issue.

7. CMS sues chiropractic board to halt injections rule
Legislative committee votes to repeal rule in January hearing

CMS, acting on behalf of its more than 7,700 member physicians, residents, and medical students, along with 14 co-plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit on Dec. 28, 2012 to halt the implementation of a rule by the Colorado Board of Chiropractic Examiners that would improperly extend medical authority to chiropractors to administer non-FDA approved compounds. Changes to an existing rule would authorize chiropractors to administer these compounds topically, orally, and by inhalation and injection, after completing just 24 hours of study and a certification exam.

An opinion issued by the attorney general in December stated that these changes "exceed the legislative scope of authority" granted to the Chiropractic Board of Examiners. In addition, records provided by the attorney general's office show an overwhelming response by chiropractors opposing this rule.

A House-Senate Committee on Legal Services voted 8-0 in a hearing in January to ask the Colorado Legislature to repeal the rule; the Legislature will vote on the repeal of the rule in its upcoming session as part of the Committee's rule review bill. Click here to read CMS president Jan Kief's testimony before the committee.

8. Save the date for 2013 CMS and AMA meetings
  • May 3-5 - CMS Spring Conference - Vail, Colo.
  • June 15-19 - AMA Annual Meeting - Chicago, Ill.
  • Sept. 20-22 - CMS Annual Meeting - Vail, Colo.
  • Nov. 16-19 -AMA Interim Meeting - National Harbor, Md.
The Sounding Block is a periodic electronic publication from the CMS Speaker and Vice-Speaker of the House to members of the House of Delegates to keep you informed of the society's business and concerns throughout the year.

Questions? E-mail enews_editor@cms.org.

2012, Colorado Medical Society