March 24, 2023 Issue 160

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The Legislative Session Rollercoaster

Last month, we emphasized the importance of advocacy. At that time, we were nearly halfway through the session, but knowing the way the legislature often works, there was still a LOT to be debated and discussed. That was so apparent with how the last few days of session went.

We have officially entered the veto recess, and the Governor has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to act by either signing or vetoing a bill that has been passed and agreed upon by both chambers of the legislature. If the Governor takes no action within the allotted 10 days, the bill will become law without his signature. When legislators return to Frankfort to complete the final two days of the session on March 29th and 30th, they can try to overturn any vetoes and move additional pieces of legislation toward final passage.

I am grateful to report that one of our KMA priority bills, Senate Bill 12, received final passage and has already been signed by the Governor. SB12 encourages physicians to seek care when needed through a wellness program and ensures that a record of a physician’s participation in such a program is confidential and has additional legal protections. The passage of this legislation is an important step in our overall efforts to improve physician well-being and address workforce issues in the state.

During Physicians’ Day at the Capitol, we heard an extremely moving testimony from Northern Kentucky Medical Society President James Schack, M.D. Dr. Schack shared his story of seeking counseling following a very traumatic medical event involving his neighbor in which he provided emergency care. Dr. Schack has graciously shared his story below for those that weren’t able to attend this year’s PDAC to raise awareness about the new law and its importance. I hope you will take the time to read it and share it with your colleagues who may be hesitant to seek out these important services.

Despite our advocacy and efforts through the Reform Prior Auth campaign (which included a press conference during PDAC in which nearly 100 of you attended), House Bill 134 did not pass this session, despite passing easily out of the House Health Services Committee. KMA is committed to advocating for prior authorization reforms and we will be seeking your assistance over the coming year with that ongoing effort. Thankfully, it appears to be an issue that is popular with the public and many lawmakers, so we are optimistic it will pass in the future. 

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bill that has arguably generated the most debate and discussion this session, Senate Bill 150. SB150 places limits on gender-affirming medical care for those under age 18 in Kentucky by including modified provisions of the earlier-introduced House Bill 470. Many concerning elements of the original version of HB470 weren’t included in the amended SB150 as a result of discussions with legislators, such as the prohibition on mental health treatment. We thank the legislators who worked to remove such elements from the final bill.

However, there are provisions in SB150 that remain extremely problematic, such as limitations on safe medications that can be used to treat gender dysphoria. Our KMA policy supports the utilization of evidence-based standards of care for the treatment of gender dysphoria, including non-surgical medical treatment provided to youth by appropriately trained and experienced healthcare providers. Such standards for appropriate care have been developed and recognized by the nation’s leading healthcare organizations and have proven effective. As such, KMA remains opposed to the legislation.

The legislative session is always a rollercoaster, even during the “short” years. And I believe the 2023 session illustrated the importance of making your voice heard. I’d like to thank each of you who called or met with your legislators, sent messages to support or advocate on an issue, and stayed engaged during this session. The future of our practices, our patients, and our state, depends on it.

Senate Bill 12 Will Help Physicians Care for Themselves

By James Schack, M.D.

Family Medicine Physician

President, Northern Kentucky Medical Society

I was very grateful to see Senate Bill 12 pass unanimously through both chambers this session. This piece of KMA priority legislation was signed last week by the Governor and will become law. The new law encourages physicians to seek care when needed through a wellness program and ensures that a record of a physician’s participation in such a program is confidential and has legal protections. I went to Frankfort during Physicians’ Day at the Capitol to advocate for this bill among others. I was particularly interested in supporting SB12 because of a personal experience I had, which may be similar to something many of you have experienced during your career.

Last year I was called by a neighbor for urgent help for her family member who had attempted suicide. The family had already called 911, but due to living in a rural area, response time was likely to be 15-20 minutes. I quickly drove over to their home to provide aid. As I entered the room, the scene was traumatic due to the manner of the suicide attempt. I did everything any of you would do at such a scene. I quickly felt for a pulse, which was faint, I assessed and stabilized injuries, reassessed a few seconds later for a pulse, which was now difficult to feel. I began administering CPR while waiting for the EMS to arrive and transfer her to a local hospital. Due to the traumatic nature of the attempt, I called ahead to the hospital to give the ER physicians there an idea of what was on their way. I then tried to console the family and returned home. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter I was contacted by the family that the person had succumbed to their injuries.

When I returned home, I walked from my garage to the trash can to discard most of my clothes and shoes. My wife, who knew I was responding to the situation, met me in the garage. One of the first things she said to me was, “Are you ok?” It was a simple, straight-forward response. I work in outpatient primary care but I had been part of hundreds of code blues and rapid response during residency just a few years ago. I told her it was a difficult situation but, “I think I’ll be fine.”

Over the next few days I went through my normal routine at work and debriefed the experience with a colleague. I just tried to make things feel as normal as possible. But my wife could tell things weren’t quite normal. A few days after the event, she suggested I do a session of counseling. My first thought and response to that idea was, “Well, I might have to disclose that on my medical licensing form next year if I do that.”

As soon as the words left my mouth, I saw the look on my wife’s face and I realized how ridiculous of an argument that was. My wife cared about making sure her husband and father of our three kids was okay. I was worried about a box on a licensing form more than I was worried about taking care of myself. Later that night I scheduled a counseling session and went a few days later. I found the experience helpful. I talked through what made the situation different from all those residency codes, and felt much better after emotionally debriefing beyond the “medical debrief” I did with a colleague the day afterward. 

A recent KMA member survey found more than half (54%) of physicians indicated that they feel more stress now than before the pandemic. However, mental health continues to carry a stigma. And unfortunately, healthcare providers are some of the least likely groups to seek care for mental health. This new law is an important part of helping remove that stigma.

Checking a box on a licensing form shouldn’t be a barrier for someone receiving the care they need. As physicians, we are blessed with the opportunity to walk with our patients during some of the best moments of their life, such as the birth of a child, but we are also holding their hand on some of the worst days of their lives, like a cancer diagnosis three weeks before Christmas. Sometimes we are called into action on the side of the road to help people in a car accident, sometimes there is an overhead page on a plane, sometimes there’s an announcement at a kid's sporting event, sometimes it’s a phone call from a neighbor.

I am grateful for SB12 and Senator Donald Douglas, M.D., who sponsored the bill. We have to care for ourselves and care for each other. So if you or one of your colleagues is struggling with the mental weight of our profession, or just life in general, seek out the help you need and deserve. It’s easier and more confidential in Kentucky than ever before. 


KMA’s new “CME Guarantee” program allows member physicians to receive access to at least 30 hours of Category I Continuing Medical Education credit each three-year cycle at no cost. Members will be able to see the latest course offerings, upcoming sessions, and those that may be expiring soon in this new recurring section of Kentucky Health eNews. Physicians can also access a list of CME offerings by visiting and clicking on "CME Guarantee" on the sidebar menu. Members can access this page only after logging into the website. If you need assistance with your login and password, click here. For more information on the CME Guarantee program, contact Miranda Mosley,

Current Enduring Course Offerings:

Exploring the Evolution & Impact of Healthcare Technology (Expires August 2023)

Faculty: Stephanie Lahr, M.D.

COVID Recovery in Rural Communities: Unpacking Lessons in Disparities from the Pandemic (Expires October 2023)

Faculty: Ashley Montgomery-Yates, M.D., Monalisa Tailor, M.D.

Telehealth 101: Medical Payment Policy and Clinical Use of Telehealth Technologies for Physicians (Expires November 2023)

Faculty: Matthew C. Katz, M.S.

Advancing Telemedicine: Considerations for Visual and Virtual Treatment Modalities (Expires November 2023)

Faculty: Matthew C. Katz, M.S.

Treatment of Obesity from Start to Finish Using GLP-1 Medications

(Expires December 2023)

Faculty: Marisa Belcastro, M.D.

Learn With Me: Exploring Cardiology with KMA President Monalisa Tailor, M.D.

(Expires February 2024)

Faculty: Henry Sadlo, M.D., FACC


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