|Epinephrine autoinjectors save lives, even in schools where children spend so much time. Real-life examples include the child who took a medication for the first time, went to school, but suddenly started coughing and struggling to breathe.
Or, consider the child stung by a bee on the playground whose chest began to tighten and whose skin broke out in hives.
What if the school nurse had no epinephrine autoinjector to use or the child’s device was in a school locker somewhere? What if the epinephrine was expired or a second dose was needed?
An Indiana Department of Education survey revealed epinephrine autoinjectors were used about 100 times during the 2012-2013 school year alone, according to Jolene Bracale, M.S.N., R.N., program coordinator for Student Health. Until this year, however, schools were not able to obtain a stock supply of epinephrine autoinjectors to rescue children who forgot theirs or needed one for the first time.
Because of legislation the ISMA helped pass in 2014, doctors can now write school nurses a prescription for a stock supply of epinephrine autoinjectors.
While you may not be interested in politics or public policy, you are interested in the well-being of your patients. The ISMA offers opportunities this time of year to preserve lives and improve health by talking to legislators about issues, just as members discussed epinephrine autoinjectors last session.
Only physicians can help legislators understand the impact proposed laws could have on access to services and the health of Hoosiers. Plan now to join ISMA efforts in 2015. You can contribute by simply having a conversation.
The ISMA will update you through the weekly Legislative News and e-Legislative News.
This year, you’ll also find a Members Only message board on the ISMA website. The new feature will allow you to comment and discuss proposed health care bills with other ISMA members.
“New legislators will need to be educated about health care topics in various bills, especially because one-third of the General Assembly are new to their positions since redistricting in 2012,” said Mike Rinebold, director of Government Relations. “That’s why we need every ISMA member to have a relationship with a legislator.” The ISMA staff will provide talking points on health care bills to help with your discussions.
The 2015 session, running Jan. 6 to April 30, is a long one that must produce a budget. Typically, about 1,200 bills are filed between the House and Senate, and last year, the ISMA closely followed 50-plus bills on health care topics.
|ISMA Alliance member Rep. Liz Brown (center), newly elected to the House, is the spouse of Fort Wayne cardiologist Stephen E. Brown, M.D. She is joined by Mike Rinebold, ISMA’s director of Government Relations, and ISMA President Heidi M. Dunniway, M.D., during November’s Organization Day at the Statehouse.
Key bills for the ISMA
This year, ISMA priorities include anticipated bills on graduate medical education expansion, access to psychiatric services, opening INSPECT to residents and an education bill to increase physical activity in grades K through 12, as well as mandating collection of students’ height and weight.
“In addition, forces are lining up to alter our state’s medical malpractice law,” said Rinebold. “We expect a bill to increase the cap on damages recoverable under the law. That legislation will come on top of the constitutional challenge in the pending Evansville court case (Bobbitt v. St. Mary's Medical Center et al).”
Major legislative changes to our medical malpractice act have not occurred since 1998, though a bill last year, supported by the ISMA, changed the number of Patient’s Compensation Fund payouts per year from two to four – an issue that pales compared to ones being discussed for 2015.
“Two-thirds of current legislators were not at the Statehouse in 1998," said Rinebold. “Therefore, the educational process will be increasingly important this year. Our medical malpractice law strikes a successful balance between the needs of doctors and patients. Any changes must be done very carefully to preserve that balance.”
Returning leaders and friends
Rep. Tim Brown, M.D., R-Crawfordsville, will again chair the House Ways and Means Committee, making him the only physician in the nation writing a state budget. While 2015 marks Rep. Brown’s second experience with the process, the economic forecast should make it easier the second time around.
The ISMA looks forward to working with members of the health committees and their chairs, Sen. Patricia Miller, R-Indianapolis, and Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany.
“Whether you contact your legislator, testify on a bill or send us your feedback on the message board, your participation in 2015 will impact our success at the Statehouse,” said Rinebold.
“But, more importantly, your involvement will expand the care and concern you have for your patients well beyond your medical practice.”