The New ASPS State Advocacy Grant Program: A Successful Inaugural Year
As part of ASPS's new State Partnership Program, it launched a new State Advocacy Grant Program in FY2016. This grant program provides financial support to our local, state and regional plastic surgery society partners by providing assistance as they work to pass or defeat legislation or regulations that impact plastic surgeons and their patients. Thus far, three state societies have received grants, a grant to a fourth state society has been approved, and ASPS has received an application from another state society. To date, the FY2016 grant recipients are: the Louisiana Society of Plastic Surgeons, the New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons and the New York State Society of Plastic Surgeons, each of which is working on a different member of the diverse set of issues that impact the practice of plastic surgery.
The Louisiana Society of Plastic Surgeons (LSPS) and Truth in Advertising
LSPS has been working with the Louisiana Legislature and the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners (LSBME) to ensure that physicians who advertise as board certified are qualified to do so. In the legislature, LSPS successfully worked to halt the introduction of legislation that would allow physicians with substandard training to advertise as board certified. The LSPS is also working with ASPS against a proposed regulation being considered by the LSBME that, if advanced, will create a pathway for physicians to advertise themselves as "board certified" when the designation is received from entities that do not meet widely-accepted educational and training standards. LSPS's board members testified at a LSBME hearing in May, and are continuing to prepare materials to aid the board in their decision making. Currently, LSPS and ASPS are working to obtain support from additional interested specialties and are coordinating with other state societies who have experience with this issue.
The New York State Society of Plastic Surgeons (NYSSPS) and Medical Liability Reform
The NYSSPS is working to defeat proposed legislation that could quadruple New York's statute of limitations. The proposed date of discovery legislation would increase medical malpractice insurance rates in New York, where physicians already pay some of the highest rates in the country. NYSSPS advocated against this bill during its lobby day this spring. Additionally, NYSSPS and ASPS coordinated a grassroots strategy to fight this legislation, through which New York based ASPS and NYSSPS members sent 53 letters to New York legislators opposing this bill in April. In May, 54 members signed on to a letter that was sent to every member of the New York Legislature expressing opposition to this bill. On June 18th, New York's legislative session adjourned and the date of discovery legislation died. NYSSPS will continue to fight this issue if it is introduced in future legislative sessions.
The New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons (NJSPS) and Out of Network Billing
NJSPS will use its State Advocacy Grant to work on provider friendly out of network reform legislation. Out of network billing legislation generally aims to address the issue of patients receiving "surprise bills". A surprise bill happens when a patient receives services from an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility and is billed an out-of-network instead of an in-network rate. The New Jersey Legislature is on its sixth year trying to pass out of network reform, and during that time NJSPS and other interested parties have worked to stave off problematic legislation. Due to increases in the democratic majority and the uncertainty regarding the next governor, NJSPS is working to ensure that a provider's ability to bill for out of network services is retained while advocating for greater transparency requirements in insurance plans and disclosure of estimated fees. NJSPS and ASPS will work on this issue during New Jersey's legislative session which adjourns in January 2017.
These state societies are working hard to advocate for plastic surgery and plastic surgeons, and ASPS is proud to be a partner in their efforts. ASPS will continue to provide financial and staff support to its local, state and regional plastic surgery society partners. Working with a local partner greatly increases the odds of successful advocacy efforts at the local level, and ASPS recognizes the important work that local, state and regional societies do to support the practice of plastic surgery and to protect the rights, interests and safety of plastic surgery patients.