While most responses to these weekly session updates have been positive, their authenticity is occasionally questioned. Let me assure you that I am writing this update Thursday night at my desk, starting my second cup of coffee, and looking back over the scores of visitors and legislation I had before me this week. In all fairness to my critics, I welcome any and all feedback on these updates because they are written for you. If you want more [or less] information let me know. If you want to know more about the legislative process, page and intern opportunities, or how to advocate your support of or opposition to bills, please reach out to my office and let me know. I hear you and am honored to represent you. Now for an update on the activities of the week:
- Gave a legislative update to the Kentucky Hospital Association which included an update on the recent momentum of Senate Bill 4 (TORT Reform)
- Spoke on an Alzheimer’s Panel about effective advocacy, funding sources for adult day care programs, and future projections for dementia
- Had a great meeting with Pathways to discuss Medicaid funding for programs. I told them there was no quick fix to shoring up Medicaid funds, but that our Governor and legislative body are dedicated to removing system abusers and ensuring that the money goes where it is needed most
- Took advantage of a few rare moments in a heavy committee schedule this week to touch base with physicians around the state as they visited Frankfort for “Physicians Day at the Capitol.” We spoke about current and future healthcare needs and the importance of public service engagement from people within the healthcare industry. Healthcare spending and innovations will shape our nation’s future and decisions in Frankfort need more input from doctors, nurses, and treatment facility teams who will be forced to implement the changes we make.
- Made progress on Senate Bill 4, which is heading toward a solution. There is a real commitment to getting this right but just as firm a commitment to getting this done. Simply put, there are many issues plaguing our healthcare industry: a shortage of good doctors, high premiums, unaffordable nursing home costs, and the myriad of consequences stemming from the practice of defensive medicine. All of these issues are impacted greatly by the litigious practice of out-of-state lawyers who steal money away from good people and, in turn, drive up costs for the rest of us. Senate Bill 4 will put them on notice that Kentucky will no longer sit back and let them get rich at the at the expense of patients, their health, and society’s wallet.
- Cosponsored and voted for SB150: the Truth in Advertising Bill. Many of you will remember the nursing home in our district that was unfairly represented in a full-page attack ad by one of these bad actor attorneys. Claims against the facility were outdated, and the ad failed to mention that the facility had come under new management and had made changes stemming from the old claims. This type of slander, proposed under the guise of free speech, hurts the goals of long-term care facilities and damages the work being done by a majority of good people who work there.
- Presented my Direct Primary Care bill to a house committee; I await its full passage by the House and its being signed into law. The bill passed the House Health and Family Services Committee unanimously, and I expect strong support on the floor. Additionally, Representative Stan Lee successfully passed a mirror bill of the dog bite legislation I filed in the Senate. I find it likely that we will pass his version if it comes out of committee in time. I’m happy for my friend from Fayette, and I look forward to supporting him on the floor and to correcting a problem for property owners in our Commonwealth.
- Passed Senate Bill 8, which essentially defunds Planned Parenthood in the Commonwealth. Access to quality and affordable healthcare is important to me as a physician, and I have heard the claim that this bill does nothing to stop abortions and does everything to prevent access to health services throughout the state. However, if you check the map, there are only two Planned Parenthood facilities in our state (in Fayette and Jefferson Counties), and they receive a disproportionate amount of funding. Meanwhile, many good family planning facilities throughout the state operate marginally and provide vital services to rural areas. This bill makes sure that taxpayer dollars do not go to facilities that perform abortions far more than they perform adoptive services and instead helps free up dollars for rural areas of the state where access to care is severely limited.